May 21, 2008

Why is Tyrese Rice flying under the radar?

Andrew Skwara is a national college basketball writer for He'll answer your questions every week in his College Hoops Mailbag.
May 14: Building Bulldogs
May 7: Chance to rise
Apr. 30: Smith starts strong

One would think that dropping 46 points on North Carolina would be enough to draw some attention. Yet heading into his senior season, Boston College guard Tyrese Rice is still a relative unknown. Why doesn't he get more respect?

We answer that question in this week's mailbag, along with others about which regular-season tournaments will be the ones to watch, why West Virginia didn't make's most recent preseason top 25, where former Memphis star Chris Douglas-Roberts will get drafted and whether the NCAA Tournament should expand.

Star watch

Why doesn't Boston College guard Tyrese Rice get more love on a national level?

I knew this guy was good, but after he dropped 46 points (in a loss) to North Carolina, I thought the national media would be all over him. He's a star. I think he will open a lot of eyes this season as to just how talented he really is.

Marc from Harlem, N.Y.

If Rice played for a high-profile program such as North Carolina or UCLA, he probably would be a household name. Nobody may be able to score points quicker in the college ranks. In that 46-point outing you referred to, Rice scored 34 in the first half, thanks to eight 3-pointers. UNC coach Roy Williams said it was about as impressive as anything he had seen.

But it's tough to get attention when you play in an area dominated by pro sports. Boston College ranks fifth, at best, for New England sports fans, behind the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins.

It's even tougher when you play for a bad team like BC, which stumbled to a 14-17 mark last season.

If the Eagles turn things around next season, Rice will start getting some of the credit he deserves. Former BC star Jared Dudley was the ACC Player of the Year two seasons ago on a Eagles team that won 20 games and went to the NCAA Tournament.

Planning ahead

Throughout the season, there are a number of monster tournaments. Being that these tournaments need to have the teams set way in advance, the people who put the tourneys together have to know who will be good or at least interesting before everyone else. For example, USC, Memphis, and Kansas State were in the Jimmy V Classic last season. What about next season?

Steve from New York City

The Old Spice Classic should give you and other college hoops junkies what you are looking for early this upcoming season. Held in Orlando from Nov. 27-30, the event is entering its third year and has upgraded its field. Three of the eight teams are locks for the preseason top 25: Georgetown, Michigan State and Tennessee.

The Hoyas and Volunteers have two of the top 10 prospects from the class of 2008: 6-foot-10 forward Greg Monroe of Georgetown and 6-5 guard Scotty Hopson of Tennessee.

There also will be Oklahoma State and new coach Travis Ford, a talented Gonzaga team that could return six of its top seven scorers and a Siena team that returns all five starters from a squad that upset Vanderbilt in the first round of the 2008 NCAA Tournament. There's also Maryland, which could have the ACC's top backcourt, and Wichita State.

The Maui Invitational again has a strong field. Notre Dame, which returns the best player (Luke Harangody) and the best outside shooter (Kyle McAlarney) in the Big East, may be the favorite. There also are North Carolina, which will have Tyler Hansbrough, the best player in college basketball, and Texas, which could be the favorite in the Big 12.

Indiana and new coach Tom Crean also will be participating. With the revamped Hoosiers having lost more than 75 percent of their offense, it's going to be interesting to see if they can even be competitive. The rest of the field is Alabama, host Chaminade (a Division II school), Oregon and St. John's.

What about WVU?

How can you leave West Virginia out of your preseason top 25?

Wade Boyles from Clarksburg, W.Va.

That's a question I probably won't have to answer when we re-vote after the June 16 deadline to withdraw from the draft. That's because the Mountaineers landed five-star recruit Devin Ebanks on Sunday, three weeks after our last vote. Ebanks, a 6-8 small forward who originally signed with Indiana before being let out of his letter-of-intent, will contribute immediately and could replace some of the versatility the Mountaineers would lose if star Joe Alexander stays in the draft.

If Alexander remains in school, the Mountaineers could jump into the top 15. They already return two of the Big East's top players in guard Alex Ruoff (13.8 ppg) and power forward Da'Sean Butler (12.9 ppg).

I think our voters were apprehensive about West Virginia more because of what WVU is facing than what it brings back. The Big East is gearing up for what looks like an incredibly strong season, as six league teams are in our top 13, which likely means some of the middle-of-the-pack squads are going to suffer.

CDR draft outlook

How high do you think Memphis' Chris Douglas-Roberts will be drafted?

Allen White from Detroit

All the projections I've seen have him going somewhere between the middle to late part of the first round.

At 6-7, he certainly has the size to play shooting guard in the NBA. He has a reliable mid-range jumper and always has been a smart, savvy player. The main knock on Douglas-Roberts is that he isn't that athletic, which will prevent him from finishing around the basket in the NBA.

Another concern is his lack of shooting range. He didn't start attempting 3-pointers with any regularity until this past season and that was from the college line of 19-9.

I think the best-case scenario is that he is the next Richard Hamilton. What's more likely is that he will be a solid role player, contributing off the bench for several seasons.

Is bigger better?

Is it time for the NCAA Tournament to expand?

Josh from Huntington, W.Va.

The traditionalist in me says no way. The NCAA Tournament is as popular as ever and much of the excitement is generated by the battle for the 65 bids. The matchups between "bubble" teams in late February and early March often are more entertaining than many of the NCAA Tournament games.

Numerous coaches from teams that finish in the middle of the pack in the high-major conferences but don't get in often complain that they "did enough" to earn a bid; they also often point out that the "best 65" teams are not going. I agree but it doesn't really bother me. If you can't finish in the top half of your league regardless of the league do you really deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament?

Still, the number of Division I teams has grown to more than 340, meaning a smaller percentage of the teams are going to the postseason (I'm not ready to count the new 16-team College Basketball Invitational until it shows it can stick around for a couple of more years). In addition, it was the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams in 1985 that really ignited its popularity.

My point is that change isn't only necessary at some point, but that it can be beneficial. I think expanding the tournament to 128 teams, as some have proposed, is ludicrous. That would allow in a slew of mediocre teams, and the drama of Selection Sunday would be gone. Adding eight teams, and either making them start in play-in games or giving the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds first-round byes makes a lot more sense.

Andrew Skwara is the national college basketball writer for Click here to send him a question or comment for his Mailbag.

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