Set Your Tivo: 11.21.10Posted by Brian Otskey on November 21st, 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.
All of these games are from tournaments played on a neutral floor. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.
Puerto Rico Tip-Off Third Place Game: #17 North Carolina vs. Vanderbilt — 5:30 pm on ESPN2 (***)
After losing to an upstart Minnesota team on Friday, North Carolina and Harrison Barnes are trying to avoid going 1-2 in this tournament. The star freshman couldn’t get anything to fall against the Golden Gophers as he shot a dreadful 0-12 from the floor. Vanderbilt is one of those teams that always seems to exceed expectations, mostly because of their underrated head coach Kevin Stallings. The Commodores had a strong second half against West Virginia in their last game but fell just short of a berth in the championship game of this event. John Jenkins shot it well from long range but was only 1-8 inside the arc. He figures to have more trouble penetrating and finishing against the taller UNC front court so you have to imagine he’ll play to his strength and shoot quite a few threes yet again. This should be a closer game than some might imagine, mainly because both teams are playing their third game in four days and Stallings always gets his club to fight hard even when they aren’t as talented. Vanderbilt seems to be doing a lot of work on figuring out its rotation as the minute distribution has been fairly balanced and spread out amongst many players. For UNC, Larry Drew II needs to take better care of the ball and get others more involved. His assists are down a bit to start the year but that could also be due to freshman Kendall Marshall earning some quality minutes at the point. North Carolina should win this game but it won’t be easy. Vanderbilt is going to surprise some people this year whether it’s this evening or later in the season.
Paradise Jam Semifinal: Old Dominion vs. Clemson — 6 pm on Fox College Sports (***)
Games like this, where contrasting styles go head to head, are always fun. In this case, the up-tempo Clemson Tigers meet an Old Dominion team that would like nothing more than to turn this game into a slow defensive struggle. Each team got a fairly easy draw in their first round game with Clemson knocking off Long Beach State and ODU taking care of St. Peter’s, though the Monarchs had some trouble closing them out. Blaine Taylor’s team has tall guards and wings who can really get after it on defense by using their length against smaller guards. That’s exactly what they’ll see in Clemson’s Andre Young and Demontez Stitt. Both are talented players but it’s going to be hard for them to get anything going against a stout Monarch defense that ranked tenth last year in defensive efficiency and is 20th so far this year. A great matchup should occur on the wing between each team’s leading scorer, Ben Finney for ODU and Tanner Smith for Clemson. Both are listed at 6’5/220 and have enjoyed solid starts to the season. The teams are evenly matched inside height-wise as they each have two important players that stand at 6’8. You’d have to favor Devin Booker and Jerai Grant for Clemson against ODU’s Frank Hassell and Keyon Carter. One statistic to watch is rebounding, where Old Dominion should enjoy an advantage. Clemson is definitely the more athletic team and probably the more talented one as well but we like the Monarchs to advance to the Paradise Jam finals in a close, low-scoring affair.
Charleston Classic Championship Game: #18 Georgetown vs. NC State — 7:30 pm on ESPNU (****)
NC State received some bad news late Saturday as ESPN.com’s Andy Katz reported that senior forward Tracy Smith will miss three weeks with a knee injury suffered on Thursday against East Carolina. The Wolfpack had no problem against a decent George Mason squad as they placed five players in double figures in a balanced effort, but Georgetown is a different animal. Smith could really have helped NC State expose a suspect Georgetown front court but now they’ll have to turn to others to make up for the loss. The most likely candidate to see his minutes and production increase is stud freshman C.J. Leslie. He scored 21 points in an opening night win over Tennessee Tech and figures to be a main contributor for Sidney Lowe this season. NC State is a very young team, even more so now without Smith in the lineup. That youth, including another freshman star Ryan Harrow, will be tested by the experienced, strong and versatile Georgetown back court trio of Chris Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark. Clark has been a pleasant surprise for John Thompson III as he’s increased his production quite a bit from last year. Georgetown’s offense is predicated almost exclusively on the backcourt this season, a far cry from historical Georgetown teams dominated by front court strength. The Hoyas are relatively thin yet again with the three guards all logging over 30 minutes a game. Georgetown has tall players on the roster but they’re very inexperienced and rather ineffective except for Julian Vaughn and Hollis Thompson. Look for NC State to take advantage inside early even without Smith and maybe jump out to a lead, but we expect the experienced Hoya back court to assert itself down the stretch as they did against Old Dominion and pull this one out.
Puerto Rico Tip-Off Championship Game: Minnesota vs. West Virginia — 8 pm on ESPN2 (****)
This is a terrific matchup between two teams that have exceeded expectations thus far. Tubby Smith’s Gophers came up with a tremendous defensive effort against North Carolina on Friday en route to a 72-67 victory. This game features two teams of similar style in what should be a hard fought slugfest with the winner having a great chance to move into the national polls tomorrow. West Virginia has been a pleasant surprise led by Casey Mitchell. The senior guard dropped 31 points on Vanderbilt Friday on 9-15 FG. Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers are showing a little more offensive prowess this season, averaging 84 PPG while still sticking to fundamental Huggy-ball traits defense and rebounding. Deniz Kilicli is a key player in this game considering the height he’ll be going up against. Minnesota’s big front court is led by Ralph Sampson III and Trevor Mbakwe and has been nothing short of dominant thus far. A win by the Gophers tonight should at least get them mentioned in the Big Ten title discussion even though they’ll have their hands full going up against Michigan State, Ohio State and Illinois. Minnesota holds a big advantage inside against West Virginia and that should be the difference. Blake Hoffarber can match Mitchell on the wing and the point guard matchup is fairly even as well. Look for the Gophers to pound it down low early on in hopes of getting Kilicli in foul trouble and forcing Huggins to move smaller players into the post to defend. We wouldn’t be surprised if WVU won, but Minnesota is on fire now and should keep rolling against the Mountaineers.
Paradise Jam Semifinal: Xavier vs. Seton Hall — 8:30 pm on Fox College Sports (***)
Injuries have been the story for Xavier this year but the Pirates could not escape the injury bug, either. Seton Hall leading scorer Jeremy Hazell could be out up to six weeks with a broken wrist suffered in Friday night’s 83-78 win over Alabama. Hazell had been playing the best basketball of his career for Seton Hall, averaging 24 PPG on 53% FG and an absolutely insane 11-17 (65%) from three this year. While that is obviously a huge hit for first year head coach Kevin Willard, he has options to turn to. The guy who is going to have to step up in place of Hazell is Jamel Jackson, who had a 40 point game on 12-15 from three against defensive powerhouse VMI last year. Jackson has played quality minutes for the Hall so far and he’ll have to be the deep shooting threat with Hazell gone. Seton Hall will have to focus its offense inside with Jeff Robinson and Herb Pope getting more touches. Robinson will be going up against Xavier’s own Jeff Robinson who’s had a solid start to the season after playing sparingly last year for coach Chris Mack. The Musketeers struggled in their first three games against weaker competition as the injuries have clearly taken their toll. Tu Holloway has picked up the slack, playing 120 out of 125 possible minutes in their three games while averaging 26/7/5. Holloway is going to be able to penetrate and dish to Robinson, Dante Jackson and Kenny Frease against a Seton Hall defense that’s still a work in progress under Willard. For Seton Hall to win they’re going to need big games out of Robinson and Pope along with someone from the back court stepping up whether it is Jackson or Jordan Theodore. Xavier is down from where they’re accustomed to being in recent years but they still have enough talent to pick up a quality neutral court win. The Pirates have lots of talent even without Hazell but you’d have to favor Xavier in SH’s first game without their leader. It should be a close game but Seton Hall will miss having the deep threat Hazell provides late in games.