yardbarker
RealGM Basketball

Atlantic 10 Conference BlogAtlantic 10 Conference Blog

Major Conference Tournaments Day 3

Big 12 Quarterfinals

#4 Iowa St. defeated #5 Oklahoma, #1 Kansas defeated #9 Texas Tech, #2 Kansas St. defeated #7 Texas, #3 Oklahoma St. defeated #6 Baylor

The most compelling image of the conference tournaments (so far) is Baylor’s Pierre Jackson lying on the floor after missing the game winning shot and realizing his NCAA dream may be over.

The backstory: Jackson never had an easy road to success in basketball. He had to play Junior College basketball at the College of Southern Idaho. But after dominating at that level, he finally got his chance in the Big 12. He joined a talented Baylor squad and for two years and was an All-Big 12 caliber player. But this was his senior year, and as the announcers noted, Baylor was 1-7 in close games this season. And that meant that Baylor had to win this game to have a shot at an at large bid.

Things looked ugly for most of the game. Baylor fell behind by 20 and at one point the Bears were 1 of 18 from three point range. But Pierre Jackson refused to let his season end. The senior put his team on his back and scored 31 points. And still his team trailed by 4 in the final seconds. That was when he kicked the ball to teammate Gary Franklin who took a three and was fouled. Franklins’ four point play tied the game and fully completed the 20 point comeback. Baylor’s dream NCAA comeback seemed like it might become a reality.

But then, Phil Forte, the Oklahoma St. player who committed the foolish foul on Franklin, drove the lane and drew a foul. His two free throws gave Oklahoma St. the lead with just 3 seconds left. Jackson would need one more heroic play. Baylor executed to perfection getting the ball to Pierre Jackson on the run and allowing Jackson to step into a three point shot at the three point line. But his shot was off the mark. And the epic senior comeback came up short. Despite all of Jackson’s heroics, Baylor seems headed to the NIT. And as he lay on the floor on Thursday night, you could tell Jackson knew it.

If the NCAA selection committee picks teams based on heart, Jackson will be in. But based on the overall profile, they simply blew too many close games against Top 50 teams.

Elsewhere in the Big 12, Iowa St. may have sealed their NCAA bid by completing a come from behind win against Oklahoma. The Cyclones trailed by 14 before winning by 7. This win was all the more impressive considering how poorly Iowa St. shot from three point range to open the game. True, their 1 of 12 pales in comparison to Baylor’s 1 for 18, but Iowa St. relies extremely heavily on three point shots for their offense, whereas Baylor can thrive on drives and post feeds. Despite an 0-8 game from PG Korie Lucious and 2 for 8 game from Tyrus McGee, Iowa St. won, showing they can win games even when their shot isn’t falling.

A10 First Round

#9 Charlotte defeats #8 Richmond, #5 Butler defeats #12 Dayton, #10 St. Joseph’s defeats #7 Charlotte, #6 UMass defeated #11 George Washington

Yesterday I noted that the A10 tournament might be the best tournament this weekend, and so far it has delivered.

St. Joseph’s was the preseason pick for A-10 champion because they brought back their entire rotation from last season. And seeing them play on the Barclays center floor reminded me of the game they played on that floor in November against Notre Dame. At that point, we were so excited about the prospects of this team, and Langston Galloway embodied his team’s heart by diving on the floor and losing a tooth in that upset. Four months later, the preseason favorites finished in 10th place, and the team’s primary stars have all regressed:

St. Joseph’s Players

2012 ORtg

2013 ORtg

Langston Galloway

124.9

108.3

Carl Jones

103.9

102.9

Halil Kanacevic

94.6

93.6

CJ Aiken

117.0

116.4

 Teams are supposed to build chemistry over time, not lose it. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if St. Joseph’s might be looking for some redemption in this tournament. St. Joseph’s came back from 8 down to make it close. Down 1 with 8 seconds left, St. Joseph’s Langston Galloway drove the lane and drew a foul (instead of settling for a jump shot), and his free throws gave St. Joseph’s a one point lead.  Then with just 1.4 seconds on the clock Xavier knew they needed to throw the ball the length of the court. Justin Martin reached back and chucked the ball the entire length of the court. In fact, he threw it so hard it bounced off the backboard on the other end. This surprised St. Joseph’s and left them completely out of position defensively. Xavier’s Isaiah Philmore was in the right place at the right time, and caught the ball right under the basket and had a wide open 2 foot look at the game winning shot. But in the hurry of the moment Philmore missed. And St. Joseph’s lives to play another day. They still have no shot at an at-large tournament berth, but don’t count the preseason favorites out until the final buzzer sounds. St. Joseph’s plays VCU on Friday and the Hawks took VCU to overtime in the regular season.

Meanwhile, Charlotte’s win over Richmond will go down as one of the wildest endings of all time. Richmond led 63-60 and elected to foul to prevent Charlotte from getting a game-tying three point shot. They committed that foul with less than 5 seconds left. For those who think this is a perfect strategy, what followed has to be the worst-ever sequence of events. Charlotte went to the line to shoot a one-and-one. The first free throw was good, but during the first free throw attempt Richmond’s Derrick Williams fouled a Charlotte player while boxing out for the rebound. That meant an automatic technical on Williams.

Charlotte got to finish the one-and-one, which cut the lead to 63-62, and then made two technical foul shots to take a 64-63 lead. Charlotte also got possession of the ball. Somehow, Richmond fouled while trying to steal the inbound and it was called a 3 point shot. Richmond coach Chris Mooney went ballistic and was called for a double technical and ejected from the game. Four made free throws later and Charlotte iced the game 68-63. Sometimes when you foul up three, you can still lose in regulation.

Finally, UMass trailed George Washington late in the game and Cady Lalanne and Terrell Vinson had fouled out. But UMass PG Chaz Williams refused to be denied. If you’ve never seen Williams play, you are really missing something special. Williams is simply a lightning bolt, and he had 3 drives for baskets in the final 90 seconds where he looked like he was shot out of a cannon. But even though Williams gave his team the 3 point lead, they still needed a stop. That’s when Williams stole the ball with 7 seconds left. UMass doesn’t quite have an NCAA tournament profile, but Chaz Williams run in this tournament is worth the price of admission.

Big Ten First Round

#8 Illinois defeated #9 Minnesota, #5 Michigan defeated #12 Penn St., #10 Nebraska defeated #7 Purdue, #6 Iowa defeated #11 Northwestern

Minnesota and Illinois might both be in the NCAA tournament, but the loser of this game was going to be sweating on Sunday. Early on Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe picked up two fouls. And after Austin Hollins made his first two shots of the game to give Minnesota a 7-2 lead, Hollins also picked up his second foul. With Tubby Smith stubbornly refusing to play his key starters with foul trouble, Illinois went on a 23-9 run and built a 25-16 lead. The Gopher’s subs couldn’t even seem to find open shots against the Illinois defense and the shot-clock violations and turnovers were horrible. (On a day where Villanova committed 18 first half turnovers, it doesn’t seem that bad, but the Gophers had 11 first have turnovers.) Then with the starters back in Minnesota went on a run and took the lead.

But with both teams diving for a loose ball in the final minute, Illinois’ DJ Richardson hit a three to tie the game. And after a Minnesota turnover, Brandon Paul drove to the left side of the elbow and hit a pull-up jumper for the game-winner.

Minnesota’s comeback and last second loss wasn’t nearly as emotional as Baylor’s comeback, but at least the Gophers showed some fight. For a team that has lost 11 of its last 16 games (but still earned enough quality wins to be in the NCAA discussion), that may be a small consolation. Illinois can now sit back comfortably on Selection Sunday while the Gophers will be sweating.

When Penn St. pulled to within 3 points of Michigan (50-47 with 13 minutes remaining) it felt like DeJaVu all over again. Michigan had struggled at home against the last place Nittany lions and lost on the road at Penn St. in one of the year’s biggest shockers. But instead of letting the close game rattle them, the Wolverines pulled away to win by 17.

Nebraska’s upset of Purdue moved the Cornhuskers up to #100 in the RPI which at least momentarily gives a number of Big Ten teams one or two more Top 100 wins. Iowa’s win against Northwestern kept them in the bubble discussion, but the game against Michigan St. is the much bigger game on Friday.

ACC First Round

#8 Boston College defeated #9 Georgia Tech, #5 NC State defeated #12 Virginia Tech, #7 Maryland defeated #10 Wake Forest, #6 Florida St. defeated #11 Clemson

This might have been the least compelling opening round of the ACC tournament in recent memory as the only legitimate bubble team, Virginia, is off until tomorrow.

Georgia Tech took a 15-0 lead to open its game against Boston College, but was outscored by 35 points the rest of the way. Boston College freshman Olivier Hanlan set an ACC tournament record with 41 points.

Maryland and Florida St.’s wins weren’t exactly easy, but at least they stayed alive on Thursday. The big games for these schools will come on Friday against Duke and North Carolina respectively.

Big East Quarterfinals

#1 Georgetown defeated #9 Cincinnati, #5 Syracuse defeated #4 Pittsburgh, #2 Louisville defeated #7 Villanova, # 6 Notre Dame defeated #3 Marquette

The beauty of the Big East Tournament is that all 8 quarterfinal teams will likely be in the NCAA tournament. This is why the Big East Tournament has been so fun to watch since it expanded to its current format less than a decade ago.

After Georgetown took a 24-8 lead, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin sent 4 players to the scorer’s table for a mass-substitution, just looking for some energy. Cincinnati responded by knocking down a series of three pointers and jump shots. But as Len Elmore noted when Cincinnati tied the game up, it seemed like a bit of fool’s gold. Cincinnati had only 4 points in the paint, and the jump shots couldn’t keep falling forever. The Hoyas eventually pulled away again to win by 19.

When Syracuse went up 43-30 on Pittsburgh on a Brandon Triche three pointer, it felt like this game might be over. But if the above recaps have taught me anything, it is that no lead is safe. Pittsburgh fought all the way back and had the ball down three with a chance to tie in the final minute. Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson took a three that was off the mark, but Talib Zanna grabbed the rebound and his bucket and one could tie the game. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, Zanna missed the free throw, Syracuse made its free throws, and Pittsburgh turned the ball over on the subsequent possession to end the game.

I sort of wish Zanna would have made that free throw. I would have loved to see Syracuse go for another buzzer beating win in the Big East tournament. James Southerland was 6 for 6 from three point range (after shooting 6 for 9 on Friday) and I was very curious if Jim Boeheim would have drawn something up to get Southerland a shot. Syracuse was 12 of 19 from three point range in this game which was critical because Pittsburgh got 16 offensive boards against the zone defense. Syracuse needed every ounce of its hot shooting to grab the victory.

Syracuse and Georgetown will now play for the third time this season on Friday night. If the Big East’s biggest rivalry is going to end, it only seems fitting that Georgetown and Syracuse will meet in the Big East Tournament.

Villanova turned the ball over 18 times in the first half against Louisville, and Louisville eventually pulled away. Meanwhile Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton’s has 6 threes on back-to-back nights. That would be impressive in any tournament, but his 12 of 18 three point shooting in the Big East tournament has been overshadowed by James Southerland’s 12 of 15 shooting on threes (as noted above).

SEC Second Round

#9 LSU defeated #8 Georgia, #5 Tennessee defeated #13 Mississippi St., # 10 Vanderbilt defeated #7 Arkansas, #6 Missouri defeated #11 Texas A&M

Tennessee and Missouri kept their at-large tournament hopes alive with wins. But Arkansas, which hasn’t been able to do anything away from home, once again blew it, losing against Vanderbilt. The Razorbacks slim NCAA hopes are now over.

Pac 12 Quarterfinals

#1 UCLA defeated #9 Arizona St., #4 Arizona defeated #5 Colorado, # 10 Utah defeated #2 California, #3 Oregon defeated #6 Washington

Arizona St. entered the day needing a major upset to have hope at an NCAA at-large bid, but blew a 15 point lead to UCLA. But Arizona St. super-freshman Jahii Carson made a case for the Pac-12 tournament team with his 55 points in two games. North Carolina fans continue to grimace at Larry Drew’s redemption tour for UCLA. Drew had 20 points on 8 for 10 shooting while dishing 4 assists in the win. UCLA will face Arizona on Friday in one of the day’s most intriguing games.

Speaking of Seniors who refuse to let their seasons end, Utah Senior Jarred DuBois’s three at the end of regulation tied the Cal-Utah game and sent it to overtime, where the Utes prevailed. Utah knows that any loss will end their season, but they are now just two wins away from the NCAA tournament. And even though their game went to OT, Utah can take solace in the fact that Oregon also needed OT to advance to the semifinals.

Comparing The Conferences

The Pac-12 has been suffering through a long dark period. The Big Ten has been dominant (at least in the pre-conference schedule) for the last few years. Should we expect a change this year? Is the Pac-12’s slump over? Is the Big Ten’s boom about to come to an end? Let’s take a quick look at some basic roster data and see if we can uncover any trends.

Part of predicting the season is noting the number of elite high school prospects on each roster. Not only are these players more likely to play well as freshmen, but they are also more likely to breakout later in their career. Recall, for example, Michael Snaer of Florida St. Snaer was a former Top 20 recruit, and while it took him three seasons, he broke out in a big way in 2011-12. After adding up the numbers…

- The Big East has the most former RSCI Top 100 prospects on rosters heading into the season with 58.

- But the Big East has more teams, and the Big East has only 3.9 elite recruits per team. The ACC has the most former Top 100 recruits per team with 4.6 per team.

- But James McAdoo is the only former Top 10 prospect in the ACC this season. That seems like an unprecedented lack of super-elite talent for the conference. If you want super elite talent, you probably want to watch the SEC, assuming everyone is declared academically eligible. John Calipari never lets us down on the recruiting trail.

- The SEC, however, is only welcoming ten Top 100 freshmen this year as a whole. Even the Big Ten, the land of typically poor recruiting, is welcoming more Top 100 freshmen than the SEC this season. And yes, the slumping Pac-12 brings in quite a few elite recruits this year.

Conf

T10

T100

T100 Fr

ACC

1

55

22

BE

1

58

17

SEC

4

49

10

B10

1

40

15

B12

3

33

11

P12

3

37

15

MWC

1

15

5

A10

0

11

3

The next table isn’t really roster data, but it does reflect some of my preliminary projections about playing time.

- The ACC is going to be the youngest conference in the nation this year, according to my projections.

- The Big East has a startlingly low number of key seniors on rosters this year.

- As usual, the MWC and A10 have more mature rosters. They lose fewer players to the NBA and that helps the top MWC and A10 teams compete, even without a plethora of blue chip talent.

Class

Sr%

Jr%

So%

Fr%

MWC

35%

30%

17%

17%

A10

33%

27%

19%

21%

P12

28%

32%

18%

22%

B12

32%

19%

26%

23%

BE

22%

32%

27%

19%

B10

27%

26%

23%

24%

SEC

25%

28%

24%

22%

ACC

25%

22%

23%

31%

The Pac-12 is getting older in a hurry, thanks in no small part to an influx of transfers. Note that your transfer numbers may vary slightly. I’m excluding transfer walk-ons and a few JUCOs who seem unlikely to play in the next table.

Incoming Transfers

D1

JUCO+

P12

15

8

SEC

10

11

BE

14

6

MWC

7

5

B12

7

5

A10

8

3

ACC

3

3

B10

5

1

The transfer table doesn’t mean the Pac-12 has suddenly become the conference of transfers. This is all a natural consequence of recent league history. The Pac-12 teams have struggled the last few years making those teams particularly attractive places for transfers to matriculate. If you want to transfer and PLAY in an elite league, you would have chosen the Pac-12 too.  On the other hand, the Big Ten has been on an upswing and few coaches have needed to dip into the JUCO ranks as a quick fix. Deverell Biggs of Nebraska is currently the only incoming JUCO player projected for the Big Ten this year.

Overall, the Pac-12 was a depleted league, but it is adding a number of impact freshmen and key transfers this year. The days of the league failing to field a Top 25 team are over. As for the Big Ten, the jury is still out. The teams at the top still have plenty of talent, but programs like Purdue could be in for a bit of a slip without an influx of can’t miss players coming in.

Major Conference Tournaments Day 4

Major Conference Tournaments Day 4

I will get to the bubble talk, but first a few observations from other games:

Baylor – Baylor went 0 for 4 against Kansas and Missouri in the regular season and it caused many people to question the team’s toughness. But in the Big 12 semifinals, the Bears finally broke through and beat the Jayhawks. Hot three-point shooting contributed to the win, but it wasn’t the only thing Baylor did right. After Kansas went on a run to take the lead late in the game, Baylor’s defense didn’t crumble like in previous games. Instead they forced several turnovers. I’m not a big proponent of the 1-3-1 or the poor man-to-man defense that Baylor often plays, but with their length and athleticism, when they swarm the ball, they can be extremely disruptive. And Baylor caused just enough chaos to win this game. It was also notable that both Quincy Acy and Perry Jones came through with huge inside buckets when the game got close. Acy had a relatively poor game, but he had at least one offensive rebound and put-back that drew Bob Knight’s praise. And Perry Jones had a great spin-move near the bucket for a key inside basket late.

Missouri – Missouri beat Texas, but in the process Kim English bruised his thigh. It was a scary moment that reminded everyone what it means that Missouri has only 7 scholarship players. The short rotation has been great for building chemistry, but if someone on the Tigers were to get hurt in an early round of the NCAA tournament, a deep run would be almost impossible.

Duke – With Ryan Kelly out, Duke struggled against Virginia Tech, but I caught one play in this game that still amazed me. With 20 seconds left, the ball was loose and four players race for it. Austin Rivers showed his quickness by coming from behind to win the race, and while sliding through a pack of three players he calmly flicked the ball up on the rim for a bucket and one. Rivers did not have a great game, but he showed his incredible athleticism with that play.

North Carolina – John Henson came down on his wrist which was X-rayed at halftime. Preliminary reports said it was just a sprain, but UNC fans have to be holding their breath. North Carolina is not a deep team this year and Henson is the key to the defense.

Michigan – Evan Smotrycz was 1-for-4 from the floor, scored only three points, and fouled out of the game against Minnesota. But he hit a three pointer to tie the game at the end of regulation, and that will make this one of the best days of his career. Michigan came back from 7 down with 4 minutes left to beat the Gophers in OT.

Wisconsin – Rob Wilson scored a career high 30 points on 7-for-10 shooting from three point range in the Badgers win over Indiana. It is amazing how often an unheralded Wisconsin player will make seven threes in a game. You can’t blame Indiana for poor scouting because Wilson had never scored more than 11 points in a game this season. In fact Wilson had zero points and played just two minutes the last time Indiana and Wisconsin met.

Louisville – Thursday Louisville forced 26 turnovers in the win over Marquette. And all season long their dominance has been based on defense. But somehow they shot 56% against Notre Dame, and all of a sudden a team that had been disappointing for much of the year is putting things together.

Syracuse – I don’t buy for a second that the semifinal game wasn’t very important to Syracuse. The Orange have owned Madison Square Garden and had some of the biggest moments in team history in this tournament. To say that the loss to Cincinnati didn’t mean anything because you’ve already locked up a 1-seed is disrespectful to the Bearcats.

Bid Stealing?

I hate the term bid-stealing, because the teams on this list are earning bids by winning their conference tournaments. In some sense, the at-large teams are the bid-thieves. But if your team is on the bubble, you will be rooting hard against this list:

Marshall – Southern Miss has had poor three point defense this year, but a day after East Carolina hit 15 threes against USM, Marshall hit 9 threes on only 17 attempts. A day after fouling out, Marshall’s Damier Pitts scored 24 points. And to add some comedy late in the game, Pitts accidentally tripped USM head coach Larry Eustachy on the sideline. I would like to say Marshall can earn a bid on Saturday, but Memphis has won its last 6 games by 18+ points, so it will take a huge effort to win that game.

Ole Miss – Skylar McBee hit a three pointer at the end of regulation for Tennessee that might have given Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy a heart-attack, but Mississippi regrouped and won in OT. Now all they have to do is beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky/Florida to earn an NCAA bid. Good luck with that.

UMass/St. Bonaventure – Here is where things get interesting. With Massachusetts upset of Temple, one of these two teams is going to play in the A10 final on Saturday, with a real chance of taking home the league’s automatic bid. The great thing about this match-up is that the country is either going to learn a lot about the versatile shooter and driver, the 5’9” Chaz Williams of UMass, or the country is going to learn about 6’9” NBA prospect Andrew Nicholson of St. Bonaventure. Nicholson has almost single-handedly turned around a St. Bonaventure program that hasn’t been to the A10 semis since 2000. And even though Massachusetts’ victory over Temple is probably more impressive, St. Bonaventure’s win over St. Joseph’s was no less special. Langston Galloway and Carl Jones have been two of the best guards in the A10, and St. Bonaventure forced Galloway into a charge and Jones into a bad shot along the baseline in the final seconds to defend a one point lead.

Helping their cause

Xavier – Trailing Dayton by one point in the final seconds, Xavier’s Mark Lyons drove the lane and banked home the game-winner. Then on the other end the Musketeers bothered Dayton’s Matt Kavanaugh enough that he missed a three foot floater in the lane, and Xavier prevailed. This was a terrific game as was the OT victory earlier this year against Dayton. Suffice to say that Tu Holloway and Kevin Dillard have had a fantastic rivalry this year. Xavier seems to be more of a lock after this win, but if UMass or St. Bonaventure win the tournament, you have to wonder if that might knock Xavier out of the field. Xavier’s best bet is to keep winning.

NC State – NC State’s win over Virginia certainly helps state their case, but I think that win is more an indictment of Virginia’s flaws than NC State’s worthiness for an NCAA bid. With Tony Bennett announcing earlier in the week that Assane Sene will not be returning this season, Virginia just lacks the size in the paint and the depth to beat quality teams.

Stubbing their toe

Miami (FL) – The Hurricanes have two solid wins over Duke and Florida St., but to only have 3 RPI Top 100 wins is almost certainly not enough. Even a team like Harvard has 5 RPI Top 100 wins. The Hurricanes were hurt by the weakness of the ACC, and Jim Larranaga’s inability to improve the team’s defense this year.

Southern Miss – The tempo free crowd may hate this team based on their poor margin-of-victory numbers, but the truth is they racked up the quality wins, including beating bubble teams Colorado St. and South Florida. Southern Miss is in despite the loss to Marshall described above.

Bid Taken!

Arizona/Colorado: With Colorado’s late night upset over California, that means the Pac-12 will have a surprise winner of the league’s automatic bid. Carlon Brown’s windmill dunk for Colorado was the tasty desert at the end of another fantastic day of basketball.

2012 Atlantic 10 Power Rankings

With a 13-3 record, Temple won the 2012 Atlantic-10 regular season championship.

Rivalry Week Musings And More Conference Shuffling

Breaking down Duke/North Carolina, Syracuse/Georgetown, Kansas/Baylor and Florida/Kentucky, along with which conferences are improving with the new round of shuffling.

Murray St., Surprise Leader Of The A-10, Tray Woodall And Assane Sene

John Calipari paved the way for a non-BCS conference to receive a No. 1 seed in the tournament while with Memphis, but here's why Murray State doesn't have the same juice.

Atlantic-10 Prospect Watch List

With players like Tu Holloway, Chris Gaston and Terrell Vison, the Atlantic-10 has several intriguing prospects.

Surprises And Flops, Part 2

Examining the surprises and flops this season in the Big East, ACC, Big 12 and Atlantic-10.

 

Basketball Wiretap Headlines

    NBA Wiretap Headlines

      NCAA Wiretap Headlines

        MLB Wiretap Headlines

          NFL Wiretap Headlines

            NHL Wiretap Headlines

              Soccer Wiretap Headlines