Set Your Tivos: 02.10.09

February 10, 2009

Set Your TivosWhile tonight lacks the marquee value of a certain intra-state rivalry that ESPN (and RTC) will be featuring tomorrow, there are a handful of solid games on the slate tonight including our third try at RTC Live, which will be broadcast from the Clemson-Boston College game. I will be sitting courtside at the game and will be taking your questions directly to the players and coaches. If you’re curious about RTC Live, leave a comment and we’ll respond or check out my previous two attempts (Take I and Take II). You’ll notice that Take II was considerably better than Take I so hopefully the trend will continue tonight. Anyways onto the games. . .

#9 Michigan State at Michigan at 7 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Ok. So maybe we do have an intra-state rivalry tonight although the Wolverines have lowered this game’s profile with their failure to live up to their early season expectations. John Beilein and the Wolverines are coming back from a close game at UConn and I’m sure that everyone associated with the team is suffering from some sort of Hasheem Thabeet-related PTSD. Fortunately for the Wolverines, the Spartans don’t have anything resembling Thabeet. Actually nobody does. Unfortunately, they will be facing the highest ranked team in the Big Ten when Tom Izzo‘s Spartans come into Crisler Arena. The Spartans appear to have recovered from losing back-to-back home games and have blown out Indiana (get in line) and Minnesota (a little more impressive) in their past 2 games by nearly identical scores (75-47 and 76-47, respectively). The key to this game will likely be Kalin Lucas, who will need to continue to lead the team with Raymar Morgan, who is expected to miss tonight’s game. If Lucas can hold his own against Manny Harris, the Spartans should have a good shot at stealing one in Ann Arbor. A Wolverine win would be huge for their NCAA tournament chances.

#12 Marquette at #13 Villanova at 7:30 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: The Golden Eagles get their chance at redemption and can earn back some national respect after Friday night’s debacle down at USF. The Wildcats will be looking to avenge their loss earlier this season at Marquette. Watch the Jerel McNealScottie Reynolds match-up, which pits the potential Big East POY in McNeal (according to Jay Bilas and others) against Reynolds who is the catalyst for Jay Wright‘s squad. The other interesting match-up will be on the inside with Dante Cunningham battling Lazar Hayward. If Villanova can win here, they might be in position for a 2 or 3 seed thanks to an easy closing schedule where they only tough game is a trip to Syracuse.

Oklahoma State at Texas at 8 PM on ESPN Full Court and ESPN360.com: The Longhorns really need a win after losing three straight (two at home) by a combined margin of 11 points. Rick Barnes and his team must be frustrated after having lost so many close games, but they get a reprieve tonight when they face the Cowboys who have lost 5 of 7. Expect a high-scoring game in Austin as the Cowboys come in averaging 83.2 PPG and allowing 75.3 PPG. A.J. Abrams and Damion James should have big games against the porous Cowboy defense. If the Longhorns are able to contain the Cowboys explosive offense (James Anderson, Obi Muonelo, Bryon Eaton, and Terrel Harris average between 14.3 and 16.5 PPG), they should be able to pull away for a nice bounceback win.

#11 Clemson at Boston College at 9 PM on NESN and Fox Sports: Like I said earlier I’ll be at this game so there will be a ton of coverage on it tonight, but it still merits some coverage beforehand. The key to this game will be whetehr BC can handle Clemson’s press and contain Trevor Booker. For all of Tyrese Rice‘s scoring ability, he isn’t a great point guard, which could create major problems (see Duke-Clemson last week). K.C. Rivers should be able to match Rice’s production unless Rice thinks he is playing against UNC again. On paper, Clemson should win this game realtively easily particularly with their match-up edge, but this is the same Clemson team that blew a huge 2nd half lead against FSU at home a few days after crushing Duke by 27.

Florida at Kentucky at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: A match-up of two potential SEC champs. These two traditional powers (Kentucky since the beginning of basketball and Florida since 2000) have struggled with consistency this year, but the Gators have the edge in momentum coming into this game as the Wildcats have lost 3 straight (including the last 2 at home). The amazing thing is that the SEC is so weak this year that the Gators may be in line for a #2 seed according to ESPN (Insider access required) if they can continue to win their league games. Tonight should be a challenge for the Gators though as I don’t think Nick Calathes can guard Jodie Meeks and the Gators interior players (Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons) shouldn’t be able to slow down Patrick Patterson. I’m going with the Wildcats here to snap out of their funk and get back into the SEC race.


Set Your Tivos: 02.07.09

February 6, 2009

Set Your Tivos
I’m not sure why everyone complains about February. Sure the NFL season is over, but at least we don’t need to hear about steroids, holdouts, and whether or not both feet were in bounds. There isn’t a blockbuster “Game of the Year” match-up today, but there are several solid games for the hoops aficionado. So just settle into your favorite spot on the couch and dig in. In the spirit of promoting healthy habits, we suggest that you try to have some vegetables today so use some ketchup on your food today.

#20 Syracuse at #16 Villanova at Noon on ESPN and ESPN360.com: The appetizer for a great day of basketball. This isn’t necessarily a must win for either team, but a win today would probably boost their NCAA seed by at least a spot on Selection Sunday. Both teams have virtually assured themselves a NCAA bid (particularly with Syracuse’s relatively easy remaining schedule in the Big East). One of the more interesting aspects of this game is that if the Orangemen lose, there is a decent chance that they will drop out of the top 25 leaving the Big East with only 5 teams in the top 25 after having as many as 9 teams earlier this season. Anyways, back to the game. Watch the match-up at point guard featuring Jonny Flynn against Scottie Reynolds. The winner of that match-up will likely win the game barring an explosion by either Eric Devendorf or Dante Cunningham.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Cincinnati at Georgetown at Noon on The Big East Network, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: Georgetown is killing me this year. I saw them play in Orlando against Tennessee in the Old Spice Classic. They lost that game, but it was pretty clear to me that day that they had the talent to make it to the Sweet 16 at the very least. I never imagined that they might be in a position at this point in the season that they might not make the NCAA tournament. To be fair, at that time I was also operating under the assumption that Tennessee was good. The Hoyas were able to break their 5-game losing streak against Rutgers and will need to beat the Bearcats if they want to get some momentum heading into their game against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. If John Thompson III is able to figured out a way to keep Deonta Vaughn in check, the Hoyas should be able to ride Greg Monroe and DaJuan Summer to a victory.

Notre Dame at #12 UCLA at 1 PM on CBS: The Irish are desperate for a victory having lost 6 straight games. They will have to end their losing streak in one of the rare non-conference match-ups this month. Everybody knows Luke Harangody is going to get his (25.3 PPG and 13.2 RPG), but Notre Dame will need Kyle McAlarney to break out of his prolonged shooting slump and get a great game out of Tory Jackson, who will be matched up against the Bruins veteran PG, Darren Collison. Look for UCLA to pull away in the 2nd half behind Collison, Josh Shipp, and Jrue Holiday.

Miami (FL) at #3 Duke at 1:30 PM on Raycom, ESPN Full Court, and ESPN360.com: I’m fully expecting Duke to come back strong at home after the massacre at Littlejohn on Wednesday night, which is something that rtmsf actually predicted before the game (sort of), but nobody picked up on until after the game. (Ok, nobody has really picked up on it yet.) On the other hand, Miami was on the right side of the other blowout upset beating Wake Forest by 27. Look for Kyle Singler to rebound with a strong game after a weak “effort” against Clemson that was plagued by foul trouble. Coach K will likely use Gerald Henderson, the only Blue Devil who showed up against Clemson, on Jack McClinton in an attempt to slow down the mercurial Miami star. If Singler and Henderson can contain or at least equal Dwayne Collins and McClinton, respectively, the Blue Devils should return to their winning ways. Well at least until UNC invades Cameron on Wednesday night.

kyle-singler

#17 Texas at Nebraska at 2 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Texas will be looking to rebound after back-to-back losses on the road. Today, they return to Austin to take on the Cornhuskers. Look for A.J. Abrams and Damion James to have big games as Rick Barnes‘s squad will definitely be motivated in this one after falling 3.5 back of conference leader Oklahoma. If Abrams and James have big games that should be enough to hold off Nebraska’s balanced attack.

Michigan at #1 UConn at 6 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: This is a game that the Huskies should be able to win fairly convincingly particularly with the game in Gampel Pavillion, but as this year has taught us never expect too much out of the #1 ranked team in the country. A Michigan win would obviously do wonders for their NCAA tournament chances, but it will tough particularly with John Beilein‘s recent changes in his rotations including bringing DeShawn Sims off the bench in their 71-51 win over Penn State in their last game. The new lineup, which is still led by Manny Harris, may provide some match-up problems for UConn and their big men. I expect UConn to pull this one especially with the recent play of Hasheem Thabeet and Jeff Adrien, but Michigan could give them problems and Beilein certainly knows all about the Huskies dating back to his days as the coach at West Virginia.

Charleston at Davidson at 6 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Most people will tune in just to watch Stephen Curry, but this could actually be a realtively close game (a rarity for the Wildcats in the weak Southern Conference). When these teams met earlier this season, the Wildcats escaped with a 4-point win on the road after Charleston had a chance to tie it with a 3 with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game. This is particularly meaningful as the Wildcats haven’t lost a Southern Conference game since January 20, 2007 (a 43-game winning streak). As an added bonus, you can see Bobby Cremins (former head coach of Georgia Tech) try to come up with a scheme to guard Curry. Cremins is one of the few coaches in the country who has had a player who was at Curry’s level or even above that as he coached Kenny Anderson (along with Dennis Scott and Brian Oliver aka “Lethal Weapon 3”) to the NCAA Final 4 in 1991.

Florida State at #10 Clemson at 7 PM on NESN and Fox Sports: I’m actually more interested in this game than the others for my own selfish reason since I’ll be doing another RTC Live when Clemson comes to Boston College on Tuesday night. It will be interesting to see if the Tigers have returned to Earth after their beatdown the hated Blue Devils just a few days ago. Oliver Purnell‘s squad had better be ready because the Seminoles are a fairly dangerous team (ask Roy Williams, who needed a Ty Lawson 3 at the buzzer to pull out a win against FSU). This is a classic letdown game so it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on it especially if Toney Douglas gets hot or if either Trevor Booker or K.C. Rivers isn’t on his game after the celebrations following the Duke win.

#19 Minnesota at Ohio State at 8 PM on The Big Ten Network: Minnesota will be licking its wounds after getting crushed by Michigan State at the Breslin Center earlier this week. Unfortunately for Tubby Smith, the Gophers have to head to Columbus to take on a Buckeye team that just knocked off Purdue. If Evan Turner is hot, the Buckeyes could make a move into the top 25 with a win here knocking the Gophers out in the process.

#23 Arizona State at Oregon State at 8:30 PM on Fox Sports: James Harden and the Sun Devils will be looking to complete the Oregon sweep against Craig Robinson‘s Beavers. [Ed. Note: Isn’t Robinson related to some famous guy? I thought I heard something about it on the news.] The Beavers, who were undefeated following Barack Obama‘s Inauguration, finally lost to Arizona ending Oregon State’s hopes of riding Obama-mania to an undefeated term. If the Sun Devils can contain Calvin Haynes, they should hand the Beavers a second consecutive defeat.

Do you pay your taxes?
No, Mr. President. I’m not Reggie Love.

#15 Memphis at #18 Gonzaga at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: Spokane is the site of ESPN GameDay today and it features a match-up of two highly regarded programs that hit rough patches this season, but have rebounded well. Gonzaga appears to have used their victory over Tennessee in Knoxville as a catalyst for their resurgence (Patty Mills‘s injury didn’t hurt either). Memphis, on the other hand, appears to have found its rhythm again with John Calipari‘s decision to move freshman Tyreke Evans from shooting guard to point guard (the kid is lost when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands). Evans has responded with his best play of the season and the Tigers have not lost since the move. Interestingly, both teams dominance in their leagues means that this is a huge game for each in terms of NCAA seeding. A win today would probably be worth 2 seeds on Selection Sunday assuming both teams are able to run the table for the rest of the regular season. Despite the fact that both teams have pretty balanced scoring attacks (4 starters in double figures for each team), the key to this game will likely be the PG match-up of Evans versus Jeremy Pargo. If the more experienced Pargo can outplay Evans, the Bulldogs should be able to run away with this one. If he isn’t, we could be in for a hard-fought game.


Checking in on the… Big 12

February 2, 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. Oklahoma (21-1)(7-0) (1)
  2. Kansas (17-4)(6-0) (3)
  3. Missouri (18-4) (5-2) (4)
  4. Texas (15-5) (4-2) (2)
  5. Texas A&M (17-5) (3-4) (7)
  6. Baylor (15-6) (3-4) (5)
  7. Nebraska (13-7) (3-4) (9)
  8. Kansas St. (14-7) (3-4)(11)
  9. Oklahoma St. (13-7) (2-4) (6)
  10. Iowa St. (12-9) (1-5) (10)
  11. Texas Tech (11-10) (1-5)(8)
  12. Colorado (8-10) (1-5) (12)

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ATB: No Bad Questions, Just Bad Reporters…

January 27, 2009

afterbuzzer1Is It an Upset if Nobody Was There to See It? Ole Miss 85, Kentucky 80. We’ll get to the game in a minute, but did anyone else notice just how empty the premium seats were in the Tad Smith Coliseum tonight?  What gives – an ESPN game against Kentucky, long the standard-bearer of the SEC, and the place is mostly empty at tipoff?  Were all the cows already tipped over in Oxford tonight (sorry, obligatory Mississippi joke)?   Well, all those at-home Mississippians missed a big chance to celebrate in what’s been a trying season at Ole Miss, as the Rebels thoroughly outhustled and outplayed Kentucky in tonight’s win.  Their defense absolutely gobbled up Jodie Meeks every time he touched the ball, holding him to 4-15 from the floor, and generally shutting down everyone else but Patrick Patterson (24/7).  Ole Miss, on the other hand, put three players in the 20+ column (Malcolm White, Terrico White, David Huertas), and it was difficult to believe that we were watching the same team that LSU had obliterated by 32 in Oxford a mere ten days ago.  We have to give credit to Andy Kennedy for this one – it was clear his players believed they could win this game from start to finish despite all the injuries and mayhem, and they did.  By FAR the best part of this game, though, was Billy Gillispie’s response to the dreadful sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards’ questions during the halftime interview.  Remember kids, there are no bad questions, just bad reporters…

Road Team Power.

  • Texas 78, Baylor 72. Baylor just cannot beat Rick Barnes and Texas.  It’s now at 23 in a row, dating back to the Tom Penders era in Austin.  AJ Abrams had 19 pts and Damion James 16/12 for the Horns, who were able to keep the home-team Bears chilly (38%) for most of the night.  The bottom half of the Big 12 is really bad this year, so the Bears should still be safe, but if they ever want to be taken seriously in a national way (much less in the Big 12), they’re going to have to eventually beat Texas or Oklahoma (29 Ls in a row vs. the Sooners).
  • Purdue 64, Wisconsin 63. This just doesn’t happen.  Bo Ryan teams never lose consecutive home games, much less five games in a row.  And yet, the Badgers now sit at 3-5 in the Big Ten race thanks to getting swept by Purdue tonight.  Robbie Hummell hit a key three with just over a minute left to give the Boilermakers the lead for good, and once again Wisconsin was left to do some soul-searching.  The problem for the Badgers is that their usually-reliable defense is far from it right now – Purdue connected on nearly 60% of its shots tonight, in its last four losses teams have hit at least 47%, and teams are shooting a full 5% higher against the Badgers this year than last.

ACC Tuesday Night.

  • NC State 84, Miami (FL) 81 (OT). The Hurricanes are really confounding this season.  Looking at their personnel on the floor, you can easily see a team that will finish in the top five of the ACC and make the NCAA Tournament.  Instead, when you look at their resume, you quickly realize that the only likely tourney team they’ve beaten was Kentucky nearly two months ago.  Games like tonight surely don’t help – they shot 49% and outrebounded the Wolfpack by 11, yet still lost the game when NCSU freshman Julius Mays drilled a by-the-way three with 2.6 seconds remaining in OT to win it (see below video).  Miami had better get it going soon because games vs. Wake, UNC and at Duke are looming.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

  • Boston College 76, Maryland 67. When is Gary Williams going to hang it up in College Park?  Three days after taking it up the arse at Duke for their worst loss ever in that once-illustrious series, the Terps came back home to blow a sixteen-pt first half lead in yet another head-scratcher.  With only one NCAA Tourney win in the last four seasons (soon to be five), when will the Terp faithful put an end to what is clearly a coach who is simply riding out the string.  As for BC, the Eagles won their third league game in a row to go to 4-3 in the conference, and what’s even more surprising is that their motor, Tyrese Rice, didn’t even play all that well (10/6 assts).  It appears that BC is going to be good enough to compete with Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida St. for the bubble spots in the ACC this year – their schedule is favorable to be at .500 or better the rest of the way.

Some Other Scores.

  • Eastern Kentucky 73, Austin Peay 70 (OT). EKU got the home upset to bring Austin Peay back to the pack a little in the OVC race.
  • Utah 94, BYU 88 (OT). BYU shot half as many FTs but missed just as many at Utah (9), and that was the key difference in the OT.  Utah’s Luke Nevill blew up for 32/10.
  • Northeastern 68, VCU 63. NE got a huge road win to take over sole possession of first place in the CAA despite Eric Maynor’s 30 pts and a furious comeback that fell short for VCU.

Checking in on the… Big 12

January 19, 2009

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

Current Records and my standings (Conference Standings) (Last Week)

  1. Oklahoma (17-1)(3-0) (2)
  2. Texas (13-4) (2-1) (3)
  3. Baylor (14-3) (2-1) (1)
  4. Kansas (13-4)(2-0) (5)
  5. Texas A&M (15-3) (1-2) (4)
  6. Missouri (15-3) (2-1) (8)
  7. Nebraska (12-4) (2-1) (7)
  8. Oklahoma State (12-4) (1-1) (6)
  9. Iowa State (12-6) (1-2) (11)
  10. Kansas State (11-6) (0-3)(9)
  11. Texas Tech (10-8) (0-3)(10)
  12. Colorado (8-8) (0-2) (12)

GAME OF THE WEEK
Baylor 98, Oklahoma State 92 (OT): Baylor was down by as many as 17 points in the 1st half, but made a run and was quite the deal to get the game into overtime, but Tweety Carter came up huge for Baylor hitting two three-pointers at the start of overtime. Then he finished off the Cowboys with a third basket and a key steal to seal the game for the Bears.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sherron Collins, Kansas: Collins was the leader that the Jayhawks expected to have as he helped lead Kansas to wins in their first two conference games this week averaging 21 points (12/12 FT) and 5.5 assists per game. His leadership will determine the wins for Kansas in the conference season and how successful they want to be.

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ATB: T-Will’s House of Cards

January 13, 2009

afterbuzzerNews & Notes.

  • Miami (FL)’s Eddie Rios was suspended indefinitely for the second time this season for a violation of team rules.  Missouri’s Leo Lyons was also suspended indefinitely relating to his arrest for failure to pay an outstanding traffic ticket.   Pay your tickets, kiddies.
  • Billy Packer (where’s he been?) and Bob Knight plan on doing their own show on FSN during March Madness between filling out parlay cards at the Wynn Las Vegas this year.
  • LMU’s Bill Bayno resigned due to medical reasons; he will be replaced by assistant coach Max Good (currently 1-11 this season).

The First of Many Ginormous Mondays.

Louisville 87, Notre Dame 73 (OT). This was a fantastic game, and the third in a row that came down the last possession of regulation for the battle-tested Cards (who won all three).  The Big East is going to be like this all year long, and the teams that can make plays in the last two minutes will be sitting at 11-7 and staring at a top four NCAA seed, and those that don’t will be at 7-11 and needing a nice run in the Big East Tournament to get back on the bubble.  Terrence Williams and Luke Harangody were both pretty much unstoppable in a mano-a-mano passion play that rivaled anything we’ve seen in a while.  T-Will blew up the stat sheet, going for 24/16/8 assts/3 stls, while Harangody showcased a variety of spins and fadeaway jumpers in a 28/13 night.  Both teams stepped up their games defensively down the stretch, as Louisville outscored ND 3-2 in the last seven minutes.  Harangody in particular didn’t score a single point during that period and overtime.  Louisville moved to 3-0 in the conference, with #1 Pitt coming to Freedom Hall on Saturday.  It’s amazing to think that a mere two weeks ago everyone was writing the Cards off, including us.  A couple of final notes on this game – the Earl Clark slam “over everyone in the building,” according to Jay Bilas, was phenomenal (see below).  It really seemed as if his arms were something like the trees in Lord of the Rings on that dunk.

Also, the final play of regulation where ND threw the ball into the backcourt did not appear from our view to be a backcourt violation as it was called by the ref.  It was a harmless error from Louisville’s perspective, but how amazing would that ending have been if T-Will had ended the game on a wild play like that?

Oklahoma 78, Texas 63. What was most surprising about this game was just how uncompetitive Texas was throughout.  Texas couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn (34%), and AJ Abrams was the chief culprit (8-27 incl. 3-15 from three).  Blake Griffin was his usual self, going for 20/10, but he was assisted by three other Sooners in double figures.  Honestly, we keep waiting for the other shoe to drop in terms of production for Oklahoma outside of Griffin/Warren, but it hasn’t happened yet.  Jeff Capel really has this team playing well.

Other Games of Mild Interest. Not much on the slate tonight, but Davidson and Steph Curry were in action.

  • Davidson 70, Appalachian St. 52. Curry Watch – 16/6 assts for Curry on 7-13 shooting in a road win.

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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Set Your Tivos: 01.12.09 & 01.13.09

January 12, 2009

Set Your TivosBecause of the weak schedule the next two days, I’m doing a 2-for-1 edition of Set Your Tivos covering both Monday and Tuesday night for you today.

Monday
#13 Notre Dame at #20 Louisville at 7 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: After a tough victory at Villanova on Saturday (best game of the day), Rick Pitino will be looking to have his Cardinals build on the momentum as the reigning Big East POY Luke Harangody comes to town. The Cardinals will have their hands full with the experience of the Fighting Irish to go along with the inside play of Harangody (24.5 PPG and 12.7 RPG) and the outside shooting of Kyle McAlarney (16.5 PPG on 46.3% from 3). While Harangody gets all the hype (for good reason), Mike Brey‘s chances of taking Notre Dame deep into March will likely ride on the shooting of McAlarney, who may be the best pure shooter in the nation (Stephen Curry fanatics: feel free to flame away in the comment section). However, the Irish’s chances tonight will depend on the play of PG Tory Jackson (11.8 PPG, 5.9 APG, and 4.5 RPG). If Jackson can outplay the enigmatic Edgar Sosa, Notre Dame has a good chance at pulling out a win tonight. If Sosa is having an off night, Louisville will need strong performances from their interior guys (Earl Clark, Samardo Samuels, and Terrence Williams) against Harangody and hope that McAlarney doesn’t go off. We keep waiting for Louisville to play to their “potential”. Will this be the night?

#11 Texas at #5 Oklahoma at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: A match-up of teams that couldn’t beat Arkansas. Blake Griffin will probably end up with another ridiculous 20/20 and Texas doesn’t have anybody who can match-up with (nobody in college does) so the Longhorns will need to focus on limiting Willie Warren (the diaper dandy who has been surprisingly consistent this season). If Rick Barnes wants to get the victory, he will need strong games out of A.J. Abrams and Damion James. [Side note: What is going on with Connor Atchley? His numbers are down across the board.] I’d like to give Texas a chance here with Abrams bouncing back from his awful effort against Arkansas, but I’m going to have to with the Sooners since Griffin is a double-double machine and my gut feeling that Warren will go off.

Tuesday
Memphis at Tulsa at 7:30 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: Tulsa remains a bit of a mystery with an 11-5 record, but their best player (and one of the best in Conference USA) Jerome Jordan has played very poorly in several of their losses. I’m not really expecting Tulsa to beat the Tigers here, but it will be interesting to see if anybody in Conference USA can challenge Memphis, who is down this year as Tyreke Evans hasn’t played to the level that many expected him to after all the hype that he has received.

Kentucky at Tennessee at 9 PM on ESPN and ESPN360.com: It looks like these two disappointing teams will be battling for the SEC East title this year. Regardless of the relatively slow starts for both teams, this should be an interesting one from a rivalry perspective and whethere Kentucky’s dynamic duo of Jodie Meeks (24.2 PPG) and Patrick Patterson (18.9 PPG on a ridiculous 70.9% FG and 9.3 RPG) can do enough to match Tennessee’s superior depth (headed by Tyler Smith and Wayne Chism). I’d normally call this one a toss-up, but the home court should give the Vols the edge.


Set Your Tivos: 01.06.09

January 6, 2009

With most conference schedules starting to get into full swing, I thought I would start doing Set Your Tivos daily with a weekend edition to cover the games on Saturday and Sunday.

7 PM
#5 UConn at #22 West Virginia on ESPNU: Just another night in the Big East for the Huskies, who responded to last week’s  loss to Georgetown with a 80-49 beatdown over an exhausted Rutgers team. Tonight, Jim Calhoun’s Huskies go to Morgantown, WV to face Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers. Joe Alexander is gone, but Alex Ruoff and Da’Sean Butler have stepped up to fill the void. The Mountaineers have been impressive this season with wins over Ohio State (on the road), Iowa, Ole Miss (on the road), and Cleveland State. However, their lack of a solid interior presence could mean a big game for Hasheem Thabeet IF (big if) the Huskies decide to use him. If A.J. Price and the Huskies utilize Thabeet, they should roll in this one.

Just give Hasheem the damn ball!
Just give Hasheem the damn ball!

Ohio State at #12 Michigan State on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: The Spartans are finally starting to show the form that earned them an early-season #5 ranking. Honestly, outside of this being a league game, I don’t really expect this one to be close just based on the momentum these two teams have (along with the continued absence of David Lighty). Of course, since it’s a league game, I’ll probably be completely wrong. In either case, this game will be worth watching to see what kind of shape the Buckeyes are in. I don’t think they will be able to beat the Spartans in East Lansing if Raymar Morgan and Kalin Lucas are playing well, but it should be entertaining to watch.

9 PM
#7 Texas at Arkansas on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com: A week ago I wouldn’t have even thought about watching this game and I think the Longhorns may have been just as disinterested. However, with the Razorbacks victory over Oklahoma on New Year’s Eve this game has suddenly become more interesting. I’m not quite sure what to make of the Razorbacks who lost to Missouri State back in November, but haven’t lost since before Thanksgiving. The key to the game will the play of Michael Washington, the Razorback center who played national POY favorite Blake Griffin to a virtual standstill on New Year’s Eve. It will be interesting to see the match-up at the 5 as Rick Barnes will likely counter with Connor Atchley, who has the outside game to take Washington away from the post. I’ll also be intrigued to see what Arkansas does to neutralize A.J. Abrams after Willie Warren went for 35 points against the Razorback guards.

Alabama at #11 Clemson on Fox Sports South and ESPN Full Court: I’m interested in this game more to see if the Tigers are legit. It just seems like they always start the season off undefeated amassing a 15-0 record before falling apart and usually missing the NCAA tournament. However, this year they managed to win a few good out-of-conference games (Temple along with road wins at Illinois, Miami, and South Carolina). The Crimson Tide will need big games out of their backcourt of Alonzo Gee, Ronald Steele, and Senario Hillman if they want to pull off the upset. The Tigers will need to start winning games like this if they ever want to break into the ACC elite and compete with UNC, Duke, and Wake Forest for a league title.

#14 Purdue at Penn State on The Big Ten Network: The Boilermakers will be looking to rebound after opening Big Ten playing with an OT loss to Illinois. Prior to that, the Boilermakers had been playing very well with a big win over Davidson. They will have to do it against the Nittany Lions who also are coming off a loss (at Wisconsin). The game will likely come down to how each team’s top 3 players play. The Boilermakers will be relying on E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and JaJuan Johnson while the Nittany Lions will count on Talor Battle, Jamelle Cornley, and Stanley Pringle (possibly the only college basketball player in the nation who would be advised to stay out of the library).

Banned from Penn State libraries
Banned from Penn State libraries

Checking in on the… Big 12

December 31, 2008

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

Current Records and my standings (Last Week)

  1. Oklahoma (12-0) (1)
  2. Baylor (10-1) (2)
  3. Texas A&M (11-1) (3)
  4. Texas (10-2) (4)
  5. Missouri (10-2)  (5)
  6. Kansas (8-3) (6)
  7. Kansas St. (8-3) (8)
  8. Oklahoma St. (8-3) (9)
  9. Texas Tech (9-4) (7)
  10. Iowa St. (8-4) (11)
  11. Nebraska (7-3) (10)
  12. Colorado (7-3) (12)

A very bad week for the Big 12.  With about a week left in non-conference play, the cream of the crop is starting to shake out.   Kansas St. and Oklahoma St. did not play this week.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Texas (1-0 this week)—Texas rebounded after the loss to Michigan St. to take it out on another Big 10 team in the Wisconsin Badgers to get a nice road win.   The news in Texas is that former Florida guard Jai Lucas has chosen to transfer to Texas and will join the Longhorns.  It is still to be determined whether he needs to sit out a full year and become eligible for the 2nd half of next season or if he will be able to play right away.  I can’t see how he could be eligible for the beginning of next season, but stranger things have happened.

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Stat Nerds of the World, Unite.

December 29, 2008

If you know anything about us here at RTC, you know that we love numbers.  We love breaking down game stats and looking for secrets in the offensive and defensive efficiency ratings that will help us better understand why Team X is playing so poorly or why Team Y is much better than their ranking.  We also love statistical oddities – little factoids of generally meaningless but still interesting data that we can bring up at RTC office parties and cocktail functions so that we’ll seem edumacated and wicked smart about the ins and outs of college basketball.  Or at least so that we can impress Dickie V when we next run into him at a spring training Rays game.  Yeah, that.

stat-nerds

So here are a few of the statistical items that we find interesting as we approach conference season – perhaps you will also.  (all stats furnished by basketballstate.com)

  • These guys had better avoid foul trouble. UAB’s Robert Vaden, Texas’ AJ Abrams and Virginia Tech’s AD Vassallo each average over 36 minutes per game for their teams.
  • Get these men the ball! Among players scoring 15+ ppg, St. Joseph’s Ahmad Nivins (74.2%), Kentucky’s Patrick Patterson (71.5%), Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin (67.9%) and Michigan St.’s Raymar Morgan (65.3%) are burning up the nets.
  • Double-Double Trouble. Of the 19 players averaging double-figure rebounds, all of them also average double-figure points.  But only two of them are 20/10 guys – Blake Griffin (23/14) and Notre Dame’s Luke Harongody (23/12).  Patrick Patterson is just a whisker shy of 20/10 (19.6/9.5).
  • Betcha Didn’t Know That…
    • Stephen Curry leads the nation in scoring (30.0), but Tyler Hansbrough puts up the most points per 40 minutes (34.4)
    • North Dakota State’s Ben Woodside, he of the 60-pt explosion two weeks ago, is #2 in the nation in assists (7.6 per game).  Or that Davidson’s Mr. Curry is 12th nationally in dime-dropping.
    • Kentucky guard Jodie Meeks is averaging 24.2 ppg so far this season.  The last Wildcat to average that many points per game was Dan Issel in 1969-70 (33.9).
    • VMI’s brother tandem Travis and Chavis Holmes are 1-2 nationally in pilfering the ball (4.0 and 3.7 spg).
  • Tempo Free Stats.
    • UNC is the most efficient offensive team in the nation (1.19 points per possession), but did you know that Purdue is the most efficient defensive team around (0.79 ppp)?
    • The tops of the ACC and Big East have extremely efficient teams on both ends of the court – UNC, Wake Forest, Duke, UConn, Pittsburgh and Georgetown all have large differentials (approaching or above 0.3 ppp) resulting in an extra point every three or four possessions down the court.
    • The slowest paced “good” team is Wisconsin, with 61.4 possessions per game.  UNC, unsurprisingly, is averaging 79.3 possessions per contest.
    • Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and West Virginia own the boards, each team getting at or nearly 60% of the available caroms.  It’s difficult to find a “good” team that can’t rebound the ball, but Creighton is the best candidate for this award, only getting its Blue Jay hands on 48.2% of rebounds.
    • Notre Dame only turns the ball over one of every eight possessions (13%), but Kentucky gives it away nearly a quarter of the time (24%) and has still managed to go 10-3 thus far.  Incidentally, the Irish also rarely foul opponents (#1 in the nation with only 11.8 per game).  Tennessee, with all of its reaching and grabbing pressure defense, garners 21.3 fouls per game.
    • Georgetown, Connecticut, Xavier and Oklahoma live at the foul line, each getting a quarter or more of its points from the charity stripe.  Illinois, on the other hand, only gets about 14% of its points from the line.
    • The best offensively efficient performance by one team in a legit game this season so far was UNC  vs. Notre Dame, where the Heels averaged an astonishing 1.53 ppp in that demolition.

Got any others?  Feel free to pass them along in the comments!


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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Checking in on the… Big 12

December 23, 2008

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

Current Records and my standings (Last Week):

  1. Oklahoma (11-0) (1)
  2. Baylor (9-1) (3)
  3. Texas A&M (10-1) (5)
  4. Texas (8-2) (2)
  5. Missouri (9-1)  (4)
  6. Kansas (8-2) (6)
  7. Texas Tech (8-3) (7)
  8. Kansas St. (8-3) (8)
  9. Oklahoma St. (8-3) (11)
  10. Nebraska (7-2) (9)
  11. Iowa St. (7-3) (10)
  12. Colorado (5-3) (12)

Most teams only played one game this week.  The holidays are a little slow for the Big 12 teams.  However what is starting to show is that this conference is wide open and it will be a  battle once conference play starts.  Oklahoma looks a little above the rest, but not much.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

Texas A&M (3-0 this week)—Texas A&M is starting to make me a believer, winning 3 more games this week to move to 10-1.  With some solid wins now over Arizona, Alabama, and an undefeated LSU team, this team is building itself quite a resume.    Things are definitely going their way as they almost got themselves in a position to lose the LSU game, but a controversial call late in the game led to an LSU technical and A&M sealed the win.  They should get a win over Sam Houston St. this week.

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ATB: Weekend Review

December 22, 2008

afterbuzzer1

What a Saturday! We hope you had as much on Saturday as we did, sitting around in our sweats in front of a family member’s HD flatscreen while the wind pushed thermometers to nearly zero outside.  If there was ever a day for lazing around and watching nothing but college hoops, this was it.  And the games did not let us down.  From Minnesota to Gonzaga/Arizona St. to Xavier to Steph Curry, there were upsets, great finishes, shocking blowouts and a struggling all-american for good measure.

Game of the Year (to date). Connecticut 88, Gonzaga 83 (OT). For our money, the Connecticut-Gonzaga game in Seattle was the game of the year thus far.  Each team brought NBA-level talent and NCAA Tournament intensity to this one, and it took an extra period to finish it off.  We really felt as if we were watching a March game in December.  Both teams ran out to leads where they appeared the far superior team, and both teams made huge plays to get back into the game, capped off by a simply astounding three to send the game into OT by AJ Price (where he was floating left and had a man right in his face upon the release).  For large portions of this game, Gonzaga looked like a F4 team, with Austin Daye’s captivating talent (13/5) all over the court, Josh Heytvelt’s steady interior play (15/3) and Jeremy Pargo’s timely forays (16/4 assts) into the paint (not to mention Steven Gray’s 23/7/4 assts off the bench).   The Zag D held UConn to 43% shooting, while hitting half of its own shots, and yet, UConn showed a resolve and toughness that we haven’t seen out of a Calhoun team since Emeka Okafor left campus.  The Huskies really had no business pulling this game off, especially since big man Hasheem Thabeet spent the last fifth of the game on the bench in foul trouble, but team leader AJ Price (24/10 assts) kept finding penetration into the lane for easy looks and trips for his teammates to the foul line.  This was a take-notice game – we’ve been down on UConn until now because we still weren’t sure they had the chemistry and resolve to win six tough games in March.  Now we’ve taken notice.  UConn will go as far as Price takes them, and that could be all the way.  It wouldn’t surprise us at all to see a rematch of this game in Detroit in April.

Upset of the Weekend. Minnesota 70, Louisville 64. Ok, Louisville is officially the most disappointing team in America right now.  We sensed something was wrong with them the last couple of times we watched them play (and that’s not even including the WKU loss), but the Minnesota game proved to us that this is a team without a soul right now.  The Cards have enough pure talent to compete with any team in college basketball, but they don’t seem to want to give the effort that it takes to do so.  And the Edgar Sosa situation has every hallmark of another exceptional talent crawling into a hole and dying under Pitino’s tutelage (we’re channelling Rodrick Rhodes here) – it’s amazing just how ineffective he has become.  As for Minnesota, they’re now 11-0 and this was the signature win the Gophers needed to announce that Tubby Smith is once again building a competitive program.  The Gophers played hard, held Louisville to 38% shooting, and made all the right plays down the stretch to secure the win (when UL crept back within four pts).  Tubby has now won his last four games against his mentor, and suddenly the Big 10 is looking a lot stronger than it did a month ago.

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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?