Set Your Tivo: 11.15.10Posted by Brian Otskey on November 15th, 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 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game
Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.
Monday begins an exciting week of hoops featuring a marathon of games and many big matchups later in the week. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.
Wofford @ Clemson – 7 pm (no TV, live stream on www.clemsontigers.com) (***)
After a loss to Minnesota on Friday, Wofford gets another crack at a road win against a major conference team. The Gophers were able to hold Terrier star Noah Dahlman in check, limiting him to 15 points. Clemson must do the same as they’re not as talented as Minnesota. The Tigers, under the direction of first year coach Brad Brownell, are coming off an 87-64 victory over Western Carolina in their season opener also on Friday. Clemson is going to pose a significant problem for Wofford in the frontcourt. Wofford has only three players 6’8 or taller on its roster and none of them played against Minnesota. By contrast, Clemson has four guys at least that height. All contributed on Friday, led by Devin Booker’s 16/7. Brownell’s big men scored 52% of their points, while Minnesota’s front line scored 70% (48 of 69) of their points against Wofford including 43 out of 48 in the paint or from the foul line. The Terriers did a nice job limiting Blake Hoffarber and Al Nolen to a combined ten points but they got absolutely destroyed up front, including on the boards (41-29 in favor of Minnesota). Coach Mike Young needs a big performance out of his junkyard dog player Tim Johnson (10/13 vs. Minnesota) if the Terriers hope to get this win. The problem for Wofford is Johnson shot 37% from the line last year so if he’s fouled it’s essentially a turnover most of the time. A solid performance out of the Clemson backcourt, led by Demontez Stitt, will only make it much more difficult for Wofford to win. The Tigers lead the all-time series (50-16) between these upstate South Carolina rivals. For Young’s team to win, he’ll need to come up with some clever defensive strategies to counter the serious height disadvantage his team faces. While it’s possible he can do that, it is unlikely Wofford can win the game given the matchups. Ken Pomeroy gives Clemson an 88% chance to win and that’s about how we see it as well.
Miami (FL) @ #20 Memphis – 12 am on ESPN (***)
Josh Pastner’s heralded recruiting class lost a piece on Saturday as Jelan Kendrick was kicked off the team by Pastner and his staff. While it’s certainly unfortunate for the Tigers, Memphis fans know they still have a terrific class coming in led by Will Barton and company. Barton has received all the headlines it seems but it was his brother, Antonio Barton, who stepped up in his collegiate debut and led Memphis in a romp over Centenary on Friday. Antonio had 17 points, four assists and five steals in only 23 minutes of action. Chris Crawford also had a big game, hitting every shot he took from the floor for 16 points. Memphis shot 55% overall, including 52% from behind the arc in totaling 104 points. Even more encouraging were 25 assists on 33 made field goals. The bad news? The competition gets much tougher tonight as Frank Haith’s Miami Hurricanes visit FedEx Forum in the first game of ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops marathon. Miami finished last in the ACC last year but made a nice run in the conference tournament. They have one of the better backcourt tandems in the conference in Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant, who combined for 43 points and ten assists in an opening win over Jacksonville on Friday. Grant has been around, giving a verbal to Seton Hall back in 2005 then reneging and signing with Villanova. Eventually he transferred to Miami where he seems to have found a home. It’ll be interesting to see these two go up against the deep and talented (but young) Memphis backcourt. Miami has some talent up front, too. Adrian Thomas, Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble return for Haith. Johnson is an absolute brute in the paint. Standing 6’10 and checking in at 300 pounds, he somehow has the endurance to play a number of minutes (24 against Jacksonville) and still put up good numbers. These three combined for 35 points the other night and will be tough for Memphis to handle. That job falls to Will Coleman, Angel Garcia and freshman Tarik Black. We expect this to be a fairly high scoring game as both teams shot over 50% in their openers. Vegas pegs the Tigers as five and a half point favorites at home which seems a tad low given Memphis’ ranking and expectations. We do expect Miami to be in this game but Memphis is at home and should be able to take care of business.
St. John’s @ St. Mary’s – 2 am on ESPN (****)
There’s just something about this game that intrigues us. You’ve got Big East visiting West Coast, two Roman Catholic schools getting together, the team that calls Madison Square Garden home playing in the bandbox that is McKeon Pavilion, a 2 am eastern start and RTC Live will be there. Are we forgetting something? Oh yeah, Steve Lavin is on the sidelines coaching instead of broadcasting this game for ESPN. Lavin makes his return to California (okay not UCLA, but that’ll come on February 5) leading a Red Storm team picked by the 15-second man to win the Big East. We know what you’re thinking: maybe that rough offseason took its toll and he’s crazy. You’re right but St. John’s does have a team capable of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. We’ve heard all about the nine seniors returning for the Johnnies led by D.J. Kennedy, Dwight Hardy and Paris Horne but Lavin also has some key role players returning as well to add depth to the team. Kennedy averaged a legit 15/6 last year and had a lot of big games on the road including 20/8 at Louisville, 27/9 at Rutgers and 32/9 at DePaul. Horne and Hardy anchor the backcourt and will have to go up against a St. Mary’s team led by three point specialist Mickey McConnell and Australian Matthew Dellavedova. The same Australian pipeline that produced Patty Mills is alive and well for Randy Bennett as four players on the roster call the Land Down Under home. St. Mary’s shot a remarkable 40.6% from the three point line last year, good for sixth best in the nation. St. John’s was poor at defending the three last year so seeing if Lavin has changed that is something to focus on tonight. St. Mary’s will unquestionably feel the loss of frontcourt players Omar Samhan and Ben Allen this year but they have enough returning to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. The Gaels are 1-0, coming off a win against the College of Idaho on Friday. Aussie Clint Steindl led the way with 20 points for Bennett’s team. St. Mary’s had 18 steals and forced 33 turnovers all together against their non-D1 foe. St. John’s will have to take care of the ball and defend the three if they hope to win. The intangibles are going against the Red Storm such as the long flight from New York followed by the ride to Moraga, the raucous home crowd and their first game with a high-profile new head coach who hasn’t coached a game in seven and a half years. St. John’s will be competitive and may have a chance to win down the stretch but it’s a tall order to knock off St. Mary’s in Moraga. Vanderbilt was able to pull it off last year but they were the only non-conference team to do the trick since Kent State in 2008. In that time Drake, Oregon, Seton Hall, Utah State, New Mexico State and San Diego State have all gone down in defeat at McKeon Pavilion. The pressure is all on St. John’s in this one and we expect St. Mary’s to come out strong and earn a home win that may pay dividends down the road come Selection Sunday.