Set Your Tivo: 03.06.10Posted by THager on March 6th, 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
#8 West Virginia @ #9 Villanova – 12:00 pm on CBS (****)
Both of these teams had the potential earlier in the year to be # 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, but now one of them may even drop to a # 3 seed. With West Virginia ranked eighth in the country and Villanova ranked ninth, this game will probably decide who has to play a # 14 seed in the tournament (which is historically a much tougher game than a # 15 seed). This should be a great game to watch, as WVU has the sixth best offense in the country, while Villanova ranks fifth in offensive efficiency. Both teams, especially Villanova, struggle on defense. One of the few defensive standouts is Devin Ebanks, whose size previously helped force Scottie Reynolds into 1-5 shooting. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Reynolds scored 17 points against everybody else, and West Virginia suffered a rare home loss. WVU shot below 26 % from beyond the arc in that game, and will have to shoot closer to their 35 % season average if they want to keep up with Villanova’s offense. The Mountaineers have a bigger lineup, and if they can limit Villanova’s looks inside (VU shot 60 % from two-point range last game) they should come out with a win.
#1 Syracuse @ Louisville – 2:00 pm on ESPN (***)
For those fans who thought that Louisville’s last loss might put them out of the tournament, think again. According to RTC, U of L is safely in at this point, and it may take a loss here and an early exit in the Big East tournament for the Cardinals to be put back onto the bubble. The last ever game at Freedom Hall should be a great matchup between the top ranked Orange and the team that shocked them at the Carrier Dome a few weeks ago. In that game, U of L was the beneficiary of 30 points from their bench in a 66-60 victory. Although this game will be on the road for Syracuse, it might actually play into their hands, as they are the only team in the country without a road loss. Louisville’s 80th ranked defense may have a tough time guarding Syracuse’s attack, which ranks eighth in offensive efficiency. Wesley Johnson was just 5-20 in the last game, so look for more productivity from the fantastic ‘Cuse forward who shoots over 49 % from the floor. Although a loss here may not put the Cardinals on the “first four out” list, they may need to record at least one win in the Big East tournament to stay safe.
Notre Dame @ Marquette – 2:00 pm on ESPN360 (****)
If Notre Dame makes the tournament, it will be one of the best stories of the year: a team which underperformed the entire season with Luke Harangody in the lineup, and salvaged their season in his absence. The Irish have relied on a variety of players to carry the load, and with three straight wins, the Irish probably need to win just one more game to be dancing in a couple of weeks. Not only are these two teams evenly matched, there will be plenty of fireworks in this game, as both teams feature plenty of offensive weapons. The Irish are ranked second in offensive efficiency, fifth in three-point field goal percentage, third in assists per game, and are the best team in assists per turnover. The Golden Eagles are fourth in three-point shooting and sixth in turnovers per contest. Given that Notre Dame’s defense ranks 197th in efficiency, it is possible for this game to end up in the high 80s. This game will also provide an opportunity for Lazar Hayward to avenge a 2-11 effort in his last game, as well as for Ben Hansbrough for his 0-8 performance against Conneticut last week. If both these teams make the tournament, those players will be vital if either plans on making a deep run.
Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech – 4:00 on ESPN360 (****)
You hate to see a team play their way out of the tournament, but this game may feature two teams who could suffer such a fate. The Hokies needed to have a solid ACC record after a weak out-of-conference schedule, but lost three consecutive games following their big win against Wake Forest. Since Georgia Tech’s win at Charlotte on January 2, the Yellow Jackets have played .500 basketball. Both teams are currently in the tournament, but they could really use another win to boost their resumes. Georgia Tech is more dependent on their forwards, and ranks eighth in rebounds per game. If they grab all the loose boards, it could be difficult for the Hokies and their 100th ranked offense to come away with a victory. The Yellow Jackets are 14-1 at home this year, while the Hokies are just 5-5 away from Blacksburg. Georgia Tech is also 11th in opponents’ field goal percentage, and if they can contain a hot Malcolm Delaney, the Yellow Jackets will get back to .500 in conference play.
North Carolina @ #4 Duke – 9:00 pm on ESPN (****)
UNC has had a terrible season, but they have rebounded in their last two games to score a pair of victories against Wake Forest and Miami. The main reason for watching this game is to see the Cameron Crazies finally get rewarded with a home victory over the Tar Heels. In their earlier matchup in Chapel Hill, UNC only trailed by one point with 6:07 left. Anytime you allow an opponent to shoot 50 % from the three-point line, however, and you shoot below 35% from the field, you are not going to win many games. All statistics point to the Blue Devils rolling all over Carolina in this game, as Duke ranks in the top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency, while UNC doesn’t rank in the top 40 in either category. Duke is also a solid free throw shooting team and features as imposing a trio as any team in the country. North Carolina’s strongest asset is their tall lineup, and if they can gum up the middle against the Blue Devils, they can at least keep the game close.