Set Your Tivo: 11.22.10Posted by Brian Otskey on November 22nd, 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.
Maui Invitational Opening Round: Connecticut vs. Wichita State — 3 pm on ESPN2 (***)
The best game of Maui’s first day features a matchup of teams with contrasting styles. Wichita State is a very deliberate, low scoring team that will sit back and play half court defense. Connecticut, without a dominant big man such as Emeka Okafor or Hasheem Thabeet, prefers to run with its guards and wings led by Kemba Walker. The junior point guard had a good offseason and is tearing it up so far. He had 42/8/3 in a game against Vermont last week, an 89-73 Husky win. Alex Oriakhi has been great for Jim Calhoun in the first two games of the season averaging 11/13 and 3.5 blocks, a Calhoun trademark. As a team, Connecticut pulled down an astounding 52 rebounds per contest in their first two games. Wichita State does a good job on the defensive glass but they will encounter a tough test against Connecticut. The Shockers are fairly efficient on offense despite their slow pace. One thing they have going for them is their three point shooting versus the Huskies’ defense. Wichita shoots it well while UConn ranks 288th in defending the three. To win, the Shockers need to take advantage of this behind 6’4 guards Toure’ Murry and Graham Hatch. Forward J.T. Durley can also step out and stroke it from three so Wichita clearly has the perimeter threats to make this a close game. The Shockers need a strong defensive effort on Walker as well as wing Roscoe Smith. They don’t create a lot of turnovers because of their pace so holding their own on the boards becomes paramount. If Connecticut wins the rebounding battle handily, it’ll be very difficult for Wichita State to win this game.
CBE Classic Semifinal: #1 Duke vs. Marquette – 7:30 pm on ESPN2 (****)
This game is interesting because it’s Duke’s first test against a good team. Marquette has been vastly underrated by many in the crowded Big East but the Golden Eagles have a solid roster full of young talent and experienced players, always a good combination. Everybody knows about Duke and their stars Kyrie Irving, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler so let’s shine a little light on Buzz Williams’ crew from the Brew City and see what they have to do to win. Marquette is led by senior swing Jimmy Butler, a candidate for first team all-Big East. Butler broke out last season and is the focal point of Williams’ offense this year. He is surrounded by dynamic guard Darius Johnson-Odom, promising freshman Vander Blue and senior Dwight Buycks. Marquette’s strength is in the backcourt and on the wing, as is Duke’s. If there’s one thing these two teams don’t do all that well it is defend the three, especially Marquette. Williams needs a great defensive effort from his guards if they hope to contain their explosive opponent. The Golden Eagles defend the paint well, ranking fairly high in defensive two point percentage. They must limit the interior players for Duke and force all the action on the guards where a strong effort can possibly contain them. Duke is even deeper off the bench with Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins, both deep threats. Duke is a heavy favorite in this game for good reason but Marquette is going to give them a run. We think Buzz can motivate his team enough and parlay that with their talent to be in this game deep into the second half. Marquette needs everything to go right in this game but that’s not as far-fetched as you may think. MU can run but they don’t want to get caught in a track meet with the Blue Devils where transition opportunities will favor Duke. To knock off #1, Marquette has to hold Duke around 40% shooting and get a huge game out of a Butler, Johnson-Odom and someone off the bench like Jae Crowder. We’re not picking Marquette to win the game but don’t be surprised if this one is closer than you may have originally thought.
Paradise Jam Championship Game: Old Dominion vs. Xavier – 8:30 pm on Fox Sports Net (****)
Old Dominion held on against Clemson and Xavier withstood a furious late rally by Seton Hall to advance to the title game at the Paradise Jam. Tu Holloway hit a game winning fall away three with 17 seconds left to finally put away the pesky Pirates (down nine with under seven minutes left) playing without the injured Jeremy Hazell. This figures to be a game in the 50s or low 60s as Old Dominion plays at a slow pace and Xavier has struggled with injuries and has only one pure threat in Holloway. The Musketeers have played excellent defense, holding their last three opponents under 40% shooting. With the Monarchs being an even better defensive team, offense will be at a premium in this one. Xavier has the advantage inside with Jeff Robinson and Kenny Frease, though Old Dominion has a great rebounder in Frank Hassell. Rebounding will be a huge storyline in a game that figures to have a lot of missed shots and you’d figure that will favor Old Dominion. Xavier needs a second option to step up in the backcourt and that could be Mark Lyons. He’s struggled mightily however, shooting well under 30% from the floor in Xavier’s four games. Holloway has really carried them but he won’t be able to do it alone every night. Old Dominion is a more polished team and has the experience needed to win a big game. We like the Monarchs to take home the title from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
CBE Classic Semifinal: #3 Kansas State vs. #15 Gonzaga — 10 pm on ESPN2 (*****)
Kansas State coach Frank Martin will play Curtis Kelly in this game according to Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com. Kelly will provide a jolt to a Wildcat front court that’s had a tough time to begin the year. Kansas State is an immensely physical team that will disrupt a Gonzaga offense that’s lacking an effective point guard. Steven Gray has done a great job distributing the ball (and doing everything for that matter) early on but he can’t be counted on to handle the ball all year long at 6’5, plus he’s better off the ball. Mark Few must find a point guard quickly with a very difficult schedule coming up. Demetri Goodson seems to be the likely candidate but he’s a bit of a work in progress at this point. Gonzaga’s loaded frontcourt should have forward Elias Harris back after an injury scare that turned out to be a lot less serious than originally thought. Five of Gonzaga’s top six scorers are at least 6’7 making this one of the more talented teams Few has had in Spokane. If he could ever find a point guard, Gonzaga could be the Final Four sleeper that some have talked about. Kansas State has done a tremendous job taking care of the basketball despite point guard questions of their own, as well as forcing turnovers on the defensive end. With point guard issues for Gonzaga, the K-State defenders should feast on the Gonzaga ball handlers tonight. Jacob Pullen and Rodney McGruder lead a very good Wildcat backcourt, even with the loss of Denis Clemente. The return of Kelly gives Martin another option to go up against the talented Zags front line. If Kelly is rusty, Wally Judge and his fellow big men must step up and pick up the slack in defending the frontcourt of Gonzaga. Look for the Bulldogs to get Gray involved early, as well as pound the ball inside to get the K-State bigs in foul trouble. With a couple guys in foul trouble, Gonzaga will be sitting pretty. This should be a very physical game played in a great environment in Kansas City. You know the Wildcat fans will be there loud and proud, but this is not Bramlage Coliseum. We expect Gonzaga to play very well and have a chance to win this game down the stretch. You have to favor Kansas State but the question will be how well Kelly can get back into the flow and contribute. Kansas State should win, but don’t be surprised if Gonzaga grabs an important early season victory.