Set Your Tivo: 02.14.10Posted by rtmsf on February 14th, 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
#16 Ohio State @ Illinois – 1 pm on CBS (*****)
There are only a handful of teams that have a winning streak of at least five games, and two of them will meet in this clash that has huge Big Ten title implications. The Buckeyes will want to keep pace with the Spartans (and several other contenders) in order to claim at least a share of the conference championship. Both of these teams stand at 9-3 in the conference, but only Ohio State is ranked (#16). Illinois, if they win a third consecutive game over a ranked Big Ten team, will not only appear in next week’s top 25, they will also likely be considered the front-runner for the Big Ten title. In order to top Ohio State, Illinois is going to have to get past defensive standout David Lighty and a Buckeye defense that only gives up 60.5 points per game. Demetri McCamey has exploded for the Illini when they have needed him the most, shooting a combined 19-29 against Michigan State and Wisconsin. Although Illinois does not rank in the top 40 in either offensive or defensive efficiency, if McCamey can carry the team on his back again, they will certainly keep this game close. Ohio State’s offensive game is solid as well, as they are third in the nation in field goal percentage, and they rank eighth in offensive efficiency with four players averaging in double figures. Although the Buckeyes are hot, their wins have come against the basement of the conference, while Illinois has asserted itself as one of the most overachieving teams in the country, so look for the Illini to get the win to move one step closer to a Big Ten title.
Louisville @ #3 Syracuse – 1 pm on ESPN (***)
Although people are well aware of the struggles of North Carolina and Connecticut, Louisville has been just as big of a disappointment this season. Last year’s Big East winner and #1 NCAA tournament seed, the Cardinals are currently on Joe Lunardi’s first four out. UL is an acceptable seventh in the Big East, but if they continue to perform on the road like they have so far this season (1-6) they will not have to wait on Selection Sunday to know what their plans are for mid-late March. The main reason for Louisville’s disappointment is their inability to play defense, with an efficiency rating of #82 in the country. Syracuse not only ranks better on defense at seventh in the country (they rank in the top ten in steals and blocks per game), they are also among the nation’s best offensive teams. Syracuse averages 81.6 points per game, and ranks #11 in offensive efficiency with the best field goal percentage in the country. Louisville’s offense has struggled as of late, especially second-leading scorer Edgar Sosa, who is coming off a zero-point effort against St. John’s in which he went 0-6 from the field with five turnovers. To make matters worse for UL, Syracuse is heading in the opposite direction, as the Orange are third in the nation with eleven consecutive wins. Despite all the evidence to show why this game will not be close, the one thing the Cardinals have going for them is that there could potentially be a trap game for Syracuse. Their next game is on the road against Georgetown, while Louisville knows they need to win almost every game to make the tournament. Also, Wesley Johnson still does not appear to be 100 % back from his leg injury, as he is just 8-23 from the field in his last three games. Nevertheless, Syracuse is too talented not to win this game.