Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chandler to stay at Rutgers

ZAGSBLOG is reporting Corey Chandler will remain a Scarlet Knight... that's huge news for RU.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NCAA Violation in Storrs?

The Connecticut Huskies men's basketball program may be in some trouble after a Yahoo! Sports report claimed recruiting violations were committed by the school in its signing of former guard Nate Miles.

Miles was expelled from the school last year.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Morning Run

It's the Monday after the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, you know what that means: anguish, tears and looking at 2010 tournament favorites. Hope your bracket is still okay, mine is hanging on by a thread. An extremely thin, short thread.

Now to the links

The NCAA Tournament proves that the Big East is pretty good apparently
Eric Devendorf doesn't mind if you think he's an asshole
A look back at the weekend, in picture form
Tennessee is now 42-1
Drug Testing may be a little too meddlesome
A line graph to explain the tournament's evolution
Luke Winn tell s you thing five things you've learned

To build on Winn's observation of all the scares that summed up this weekend: I love it. Some have proclaimed this tournament to be boring so far because of the lack of upsets. Poppycock! This is how the tournament should be. Usually only top three seeds have a chance of actually winning the title and so I want to see them advance. I want to see the top teams make it as far as possible so that it is the best against the best to decide it all. But I do want it hard for them. It's great when Louisville is taken to the limit by No. 9 Siena. It was riveting. But it would have been disappointing to see the Cardinals lose. It takes away the luster of the tournament from here on if they weren't involved because it's one less team that could be the champion. All the teams that could possibly win the championship are still alive. Picking a champ now is just as perplexing as it was Wednesday.
And from seeds four, on down, let the upsets begin. Cleveland State beating Wake Forest: great. Arizona upsetting Utah: awesome. So let the upsets come, and in droves. Just make sure that the best teams aren't a part of them.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bracket Blowouts

How does the NCAA tournament follow up last night's late-night overtime thrillers -- with blowouts of course.

Top seeds that were slow out of the gate (Memphis and Villanova) proved why they were high seeds and UConn just kept rolling. The Wildcats jumped all over UCLA, physically dominating while routing the Bruins 89-69 (and playing in Philly didn't hurt).

So much for looking vulnerable for Memphis. The Tigers blew out Maryland 89-70 and again look Final Four worthy.

UConn topped its 40+ point beat-down of Chattanooga by steamrolling Texas A&M. The Aggies looked great against BYU, but they fell behind the Huskies early and with 11:21 remaining it's UConn up 72-50.

Congrats to Gary Waters

I'm on my way to the RAC for the NCAA women's basketball tournament, but felt the need to post a congratulations to Gary Waters and Cleveland St. for their 15-point win over Wake Forest last night... cover-to-cover domination.

Asked this morning on ESPN about whether taking his team to a bull-fight in Spain this offseason helped their mindset, Waters responded by saying it taught them "to kill the opponent."

GW is clearly fired up.

Bracket Busters

In case you may have fell asleep and missed the late night madness that took over the NCAA tournament let's take a look.

No.12 Arizona went wire-to-wire knocking off No.5 Utah 84-71.
No.13 Cleveland St. hammered an overrated No.4 Wake Forest 84-69.

And then there were overtime thrillers.

No.12 Wisconsin defeated No.5 Florida State 61-59 on a layup by Trevon Hughes with two seconds left.

In the game of the night No.9 Siena worked two overtimes to eliminate No.8 Ohio St. Siena led only once during regulation and that was at 3-2 after point guard Ronald Moore (#25 above/courtesy of AP) stuck a three with seven seconds left to tie the game.
And it wouldn't be the last thing Moore had to say. The junior delivered again in the second overtime period with another three, this time with 3.9 seconds left to give the Saints a 74-72 victory. Evan Turner had a chance to send it to a third overtime, but his runner rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.
This sets up an intriguing matchup between Siena and top-seed Louisville. The Cardinals had a tough time with Morehead St. in the first half before pulling away. The Saint showed that they can bang beating Ohio St. in a Big Ten style game (poor shooting and physical play), but you have to wonder if they have any legs left after playing two overtimes.
Siena will be game against the Cards, but Terrence Williams and Samardo Samuels are too lethal of an inside-out combo and bury the Saints late. The Pick: Louisville 75 Siena 64

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thoughts From Last Night in Philly

As Mike pointed out earlier I spent last night taking in the night session in Philly so I thought that I would give you a quick run down of two very exciting games.

No.6 UCLA vs. No.11 VCU
VCU stormed back from 11 down with four and change to play giving themselves the opportunity to win the game at the buzzer. Unfortunately, for the Rams' Eric Maynor's last second shot came up short, but here is the problem with that last play.
1. VCU was inbounding the ball under its basket with 11.6 seconds left the play has to be to get the ball in Maynor's hands. They did, but it took to long. The ball came in to Joey Rodriguez who then needed two and a half seconds to get the ball to Maynor. At this point the play was doomed.
2. That could not have been the shot Anthony Grant had in mind for Maynor. Give Darren Collison credit, he did a tremendous job defensively, but the Rams had another timeout so when Maynor is forced up the right hand side of the court, tight to the sideline, why not call a timeout with six seconds left when he crosses half court. You would get the ball back in the postion where NBA teams get the ball after getting to advance after a timeout. They could have got the ball back to Maynor and he could have faced Collison up.
3. With all that being said, credit VCU for not going away. There were several moments in the second half when the Rams had opportunities to cut the lead, but missed a wide open shot or free throw so for them to have a shot at the end says a lot about their character.
4. VCU shot 18-of-25 from the free throw line while UCLA went 17-of-19. There is the difference in the game.
5. Larry Sanders can play. The somphomore center for the Rams was exceptional down the stretch, particularly on the defensive end blocking shots and rebounding. He did an excellent job of not fouling in the final ten minutes of the game as UCLA continuily came down the middle of the lane.
6. Why was UCLA getting into the lane so easily? The Rams chose to press the Bruins after every made basket. I understand that this is their style, but the Bruin guards were more athletic and broke the press with ease and on many occassions going coast-to-coast.

No.3 Villanova vs. No.14 American
American played very well early in the first half becasue it was able to execute its offense. The Eagles run a similar motion offense that Davidson used for Stephan Curry in last year's tournament.
They run the offense very efficiently and they were able to get their sharp-shooting senior Garrison Carr several open looks in the first half as they built that 10 point lead.
In the second half, Jay Wright made an adjustment to go to the 1-2-1-1 pseudo-press that the Wildcats are known for. The pressure didn't necessarily result in turnovers, but what it did was take American out of its rythm because the Eagles were unable to get into their offensive set as quickly.
Once 'Nova began to make its run it was clear that American was rattled. And combine that with tired legs and bad things are bound to happen. Everything that could have gone wrong in the second half did for a game American team, but as Wright said after his guys were simply superior athletes and that took over. Villanova outscored American 49-26 in the period.

This sets up an appetizing Villanova/UCLA matchup Saturday night. I like 'Nova in this game because the Bruins struggle to score especially without Collison, who did have some foul issues against VCU.
The scare that Villanova got from American is a good thing because in the NCAA tournament that first game against a mid-major that has won 14 of its last 15 and is on national T.V. for the first time trying to prove something can be difficult. The Wildcats took American's punch right in the mouth and responded like a good team should. The Cats guards will be just too much for UCLA -- remember it is a home game for 'Nova. The Pick: Villanova 75 UCLA 69

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nova woke up and played like a Big East team, beating American 80-67.

Binghamton-Duke in 12 minutes...
American has looked very good... Derrick Mercer is a guard that I've seen develop since his time in the first year of the Star-Ledger College Player Summer League at Rutgers. He's quick and makes things happen, so having a shooter like Garrison Carr on his team is dangerous.

Dwayne Anderson has been hot for 'Nova and needs to stay that way late... 55-52 American with 8:05 left.

Upset Alert

At the half in Philadelphia it's Villanova with 31 and American with ...41! Where did that come from. The Wildcats were supposed to be a safer pick with them playing the first two rounds in a virtual home game at the Wachovia Center. Woops. American is doing on VU's turf on Nova's terms. They are 8/15 from beyond the arc, while Villanova is only 5/14.
It's not that Villanova is shooting poorly, they are 12/23, but American is just playing better. They are shooting 50% from the field and have taken 7 more field goals. On top of that Scottie Reynolds has been held scoreless. Villanova will need to wake up or it's going to be going home. And ironically, it will be a short ride home.
According to Kyle Franko, who is at the game, American has been very efficient in its motion offense and that is causing breakdowns for Villanova.

Gonzaga holds a slim 24-23 lead with 7:17 remaining the first half. This is unexpected as Zaga is a chique pick to make it to the Final Four and the Zips only have one win all season over a team in the top 75 in rpi (Niagra). Nate Linehart has a game high 8 points.

A look back, and a look ahead

It was a great early stream of games, with 2Memphis taken to the wire by 15Cal-State Northridge and Kyle actually willing to completely disregard the health of his bracket to cheer for the Matadors. But that was all for naught and Memphis pulled it out, 81-70, thanks to 35 points and 10 three-pointers from a guy whose previous season high was 13. There's Robert Sallie's one shining moment.
9Butler and 8LSU was close throughout, with several lead changes. LSU should have taken control of this game much earlier as Marcus Thorton's playmaking and the Tigers' athleticism was difficult for Butler to handle. Still, Butler was spunky and wouldn't go away. But LSU rode Thorton's 30 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals to a 75-71 win.
5Purdue looked like it was going to have a cakewalk of a first round game, leading by as much as 14 in the second half. 12Northern Iowa clawed their way back but had horrible late-minute management to ruin their hopes of an upset. Purdue 61-56.
10Maryland and 7California were close for a while but the Terrapins pulled away midway through the second half and put it on cruise-control to finish out a 84-71 victory.
The rest of the games were blowout city. 1 UConn played without coach Jim Calhoun, who went to the hospital, and used a 46-5 run to get away from 16 Chattanooga for a 103-47 win.
No Ty Lawson for 1North Carolina, no problem. Wayne Ellington scored 25 points and Tyler Hansbrough added 22 to drive a 101-58 win over 16Radford.
9Texas A&M jumped out to an 18 point lead early in the game and didn't give it up as 8BYU never really made it a game. Bryan Davis had a game high 21 points in a 79-66 Aggies win.
4Washington was a trendy upset pick, facing SEC tournament champs 13Mississippi State. Those dreams were put to bed early. The game started out closely but the Huskies took a 40-27 lead into halftime and maintained it. Quincy Pondexter scored 23 points, double his season average, to key the 71-58 UW win.

Truthfully only about half of today's eight games were entertaining. The fraction might not change for the night slate but there will be a few doozies.
6UCLA takes on 11VCU in the awaited game of the day. VCU is a hot pick to beat the higher seeded Bruins but a large portion of this UCLA has made three straight Final Four runs and Darren Collison vs. Eric Maynor is the top 1-on-1 matchup of the first round. That game is at 9:50 ET.
7CLemson and 10Michigan should be a better 7-10 game than MD-Cal. These two are evenly matched and it will be a battle of wills. Michigan is driven by its 1-3-1 zone, which could create room underneath for Tigers star power forward Trevor Booker. Game starts at 7:10 ET.
7Texas-10Minnesota should be another good, if not spectacular game. UT needs AJ Abrams to have a big game to go far. Game starts at 7:10 ET.
The other big upset selection is 12Western Kentucky over 5Illinois. WKU is a hot pick because of its Sweet Sixteen run from last year, but Courtney Lee graduated to the NBA. AJ Slaughter took over his scoring load, and after upsetting Louisville earlier this year, is primed for another run. Illinois will be hurt by the loss of its facilitator point guard Chester Frazier, who won't play. That should hurt a lot. Game starts at 9:55 ET.
A & M wins by 13... giving me a 3-for-3 morning. Break time... Northern Iowa and Purdue underway, 6-4 UNI. Next round of tip-offs at 3pm.
LSU hangs on to beat Butler 75-71 in Greensboro thanks to a 30 point effort from Marcus Thornton. Matt Howard had 22 for the Bulldogs.

LSU just made the big shots down the stretch and were able to outlast a very scrappy Butler team. Tasmin Mitchell had 14 as well for the Tigers. LSU will meet the winner of North Carolina/Radford

The Tar Heels will not have the services of ACC Player of the Year Ty Lawson.
Memphis wins 81-70 thanks to Roburt Sallie, LSU wins 75-71 thanks to Marcus Thornton and Texas A &M is using a balanced attack to hold a 13 point lead with 30 seconds left.