Set Your Tivo: 02.20.10Posted by THager on February 20th, 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
Siena @ #13 Butler – 11 am on ESPN 2 (****)
ESPN picked a fantastic matchup for their Bracketbuster weekend. When Siena’s 14-game winning streak (tied for third in the country) came to an end last week against Niagara, Butler took their place as the hottest team in the country. Butler has the longest current winning streak at the nation at 16 games, and they have shown no signs of slowing down. They haven’t lost at Hinkle Fieldhouse this year, and are now ranked #13 in the country. Siena has four scorers averaging at least 13.6 points per game, but their offense will be severely limited by Butler’s style of play. The Bulldogs aren’t the best team in the country (#32 in defensive efficiency according to Ken Pomeroy) but they are able to slow the pace down enough that they have not given up 60 points in their last four games, and haven’t given up 70 points since a loss to Georgetown in early December. Both teams have struggled to come up with big wins this year, having lost to Minnesota, Clemson, Georgetown, Temple, Georgia Tech, and Northern Iowa. The difference is that all of Butler’s losses were by single digits and Siena’s last three losses were by at least 10 points. Butler has four double-digit scorers of their own, and if Siena’s #87 ranked defense fails to guard the Bulldogs, they won’t stand much of a chance because Butler doesn’t turn the ball over that often. This matchup should be highly entertaining, but considering Siena is coming off of a bad loss and Hinkle Fieldhouse is a tough place to play, the Bulldogs should push their winning streak on to the NCAA tournament.
Georgia Tech @ Maryland – 2 pm on ESPN 360 (**)
Both of these teams responded from tough losses recently, and have played like they can either run the table or lose several of their remaining games. These squads have been lingering just inside or outside the top 25 for a large part of the season, but with their recent losses they are not only fighting to get back in the polls, they are trying ensure a tournament bid as well. Joe Lunardi has both of these teams in the dance right now, but another loss for Georgia Tech would mean they will have lost half of their last 14 games. Although Maryland is one of the more balanced teams in the ACC, ranking in the top 20 nationally in offensive and defensive efficiency, Georgia Tech has one of the best defenses in the country (#6 according to Ken Pomeroy) but one of the worst offenses (#81). In their last two losses, the Yellow Jackets failed to shoot 40% from the field, and have not show much consistency since their 11-2 start. They Yellow Jackets use a big lineup, as four of their top five scorers are forwards. Three of Maryland’s top four scorers are guards, and it could make for some interesting matchups as these teams have not faced each other yet this year. Given that the Yellow Jackets have lost six out of their last seven road games, look for Maryland to solidify their tournament status with a win in College Park.
Illinois @ Purdue – 4 pm on ESPN (***)
The Illini left a lot of people scratching their heads when they lost by 19 points to Ohio State following a five-game winning streak against teams like Michigan State and Wisconsin. Illinois is not out of the Big Ten title chase yet, and a road win at Purdue would be huge not just for their confidence, but could put them in a tie with the Boilermakers and Buckeyes for second place in the conference. While Illinois is coming off their worst performance of the season, Purdue has an eight-game winning streak, and are coming off of a great win at OSU (the Buckeyes’ first home loss). If Purdue wants to finish the season as a top seed in the NCAA tournament, they will likely have to win the rest of their games, and their quest starts against an Illini club that has four double-digit scorers. Despite Illinois’ success on the court, their efficiency ratings are rather pedestrian at #58 on the offensive side, and #53 in defensive efficiency. Purdue, on the other hand, ranks fourth in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency ratings. The last time these teams met, Purdue won, but they surrendered 78 points to the Illini, including 46 points in the second half. Purdue is going to have to shoot better from beyond the arc in this game, as they shot 24-40 from inside the three-point line and just 3-16 from outside the line in their last matchup. Mike Tisdale only scored four points in the game, and with the Boilermakers playing at home, it won’t get any easier for him or his teammates. Purdue is hot, and if they can concentrate on the Illini and not on a Michigan State game coming up soon, they will be fine.
Kentucky @ Vanderbilt – 6 pm on ESPN (****)
With Kentucky’s escape in Starkville last week, the Wildcats showed a vulnerability people had not seen since a loss at South Carolina in January. Now Kentucky will travel to play a better team in perhaps an even more hostile environment. Vanderbilt is 13-0 at home, and has not lost in Nashville since January of last year. Perhaps the biggest surprise to most casual fans is that Vanderbilt actually ranks higher in offensive efficiency (#9) than Kentucky does with three NBA lottery picks in John Wall, Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins. Thanks to A.J. Ogilvy, a center who is just as big as Cousins, the Commodores have a higher shooting percentage from two-point range. Vandy’s problem is their defense, which ranks #76 in efficiency and allowed Kentucky to shoot 52 % from the three-point line a few weeks ago in Lexington. Vanderbilt was never really in that game, and trailed by at least ten points for over 30 minutes. If Kentucky fails to play their A game, which is very possible on the road (as shown by their 4-24 shooting performance from the three-point line in Starkville), and the Commodores shoot as well as they did against Tennessee, Vanderbilt should win this game. Ogilvy only made two shots in their last game against the Wildcats, while Cousins scored 21 points for the Cats. If Ogilvy has one of his best games of the season, the Commodores will be walking away with the upset.