Set Your Tivo 02.03.10Posted by THager on February 3rd, 2010
***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game
#21 Pittsburgh @ #6 West Virginia – 7 pm on ESPN 360 (****)
Is Pitt actually that good of a team? If the Panthers fall in Morgantown, they will have recorded their fourth loss in five games. The matchup marks just the fourth time that both of these teams have been ranked when they have faced each other, and most indications would point in West Virginia’s favor. Unlike the reeling Panthers, the Mountaineers have won four games in a row and continue their climb higher in the rankings. Not only has Pitt sunk among the Big East standings of late, they have lost to questionable teams in Seton Hall and South Florida. The Mountaineers rank seventh in the nation in offensive efficiency (having a tremendous assist to turnover ratio at over 1.5/1), and they only give up 62.2 points per game. This will mark the only time these teams play each other this year, so the crowd will certainly be intense in this rivalry game. After missing the first eleven games of the year, Pitt’s Gilbert Brown has shown the ability to be a major contributor, and had a season-high 25 points in Sunday’s loss at USF. One of the main questions for the game will be if he can he continue his scoring touch against such a solid defensive team. With Da’Sean Butler playing some of his best ball as of late for the Mountaineers, expect WVU to win the game and possibly crack the top five in the polls next week.
Mississippi State @ #23 Vanderbilt – 8 pm on ESPN 360 (***)
Mississippi State has not received much attention this season (other than the Renardo Sidney saga), but they are quietly putting together a solid SEC record at 4-2. They have had the luxury of playing mediocre SEC teams like Arkansas (twice), Georgia, Alabama and LSU thus far. The Bulldogs also have a road victory against Ole Miss to their credit, but have yet to play a top 25 team. They will get their first chance tonight against #23 Vanderbilt, and MSU will play the top three teams in the conference (Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Tennessee) only once this season, and if they can go 2-1 in those three games, they could be your surprise champion in the SEC. Vanderbilt, who just lost their first conference game over the weekend at Kentucky, still has SEC title dreams of their own. This game will be a test of Vanderbilt’s offensive style of play against MSU’s defensive-oriented style. Vanderbilt is ranked fifth in the country in offensive efficiency, while the Bulldogs only surrender 61 points per game and rank 19th in defensive efficiency. Jermaine Beal, who has been hot for VU lately, will try to light up a defense that ranks second in the nation in blocks with 8.3 per game. Vanderbilt gets to play at home, and the Bulldogs are 1-3 in their last four road games, so look for the Commodores to keep pace with Kentucky the rest of conference play.
Wichita State @ # 22 Northern Iowa – 9 pm on Panther Sports Network, Cedar Falls CBS (***)
If you find defensive games and low scores boring, this may not be the game for you. However, if you enjoy mid-majors and important conference matchups, this game should be right up your alley. The Shockers only score 70.6 points per game, and Northern Iowa averages below 65 points per contest. Neither team is ranked in the top 80 in offensive efficiency, with WSU ranks 112th in the country. The reason these teams are so successful is their defense. Wichita State ranks 16th at 59.6 points given up per game, and Northern Iowa ranks second in the country at 55.1 points allowed per contest. Led by Adam Koch, who scores 12.7 points per game but only turns the ball over 1.7 times per game, the Panthers are one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the country. They only turn the ball over 10.4 times per game, and are still undefeated at home this season. WSU has had road losses to Creighton and Drake, so look for Northern Iowa to maintain their lead atop the Missouri Valley Conference standings. If UNI wins this game they can likely call themselves a lock for March Madness.