Set Your Tivo: 11.26.10Posted by Brian Otskey on November 26th, 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.
There are lots of good games today, most with implications are from tournaments. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.
Old Spice Classic Semifinal: #25 Wisconsin vs. Boston College — 12 pm on ESPN (***)
Wisconsin enters today’s game coming off a brutal to watch 50-35 win over Manhattan in the opening round yesterday at Disney. Jon Leuer led the Badgers with 16/13 in a game that had the same halftime score (17-10) as the Patriots/Lions NFL game. Boston College scored a thrilling 67-65 win over Texas A&M as Dash Harris’ coast-to-coast layup try fell off the rim as time expired. Reggie Jackson scored 21 points on 8-12 shooting to pace an Eagles team that shot 47% overall from the floor. BC held off a second half charge from the Aggies and overcame a 29-14 shellacking on the boards to pull out the win. Wisconsin is rated eighth in offensive efficiency but has struggled shooting the ball recently. They’ve shot under 40% in their last two games but have made up for it on the defensive end, especially yesterday. Bo Ryan’s stingy defense held Manhattan under 50 FG attempts and 28.6% shooting. Wisconsin is strong on the boards as well, ranking #1 in offensive rebounding percentage and #7 in the same statistic on the defensive side meaning they clean the defensive glass very well. Not surprisingly, Wisconsin has out-rebounded every opponent it has faced this season. That’s going to be a problem for Boston College, a team that ranks #267 in offensive rebounding and had a rough time against the Aggies yesterday. The Eagles shot it well from three for the first time all year against A&M and that’s something Steve Donahue may want to take advantage of again today. Wisconsin ranks #298 against the three, the one thing they don’t do well defensively. BC isn’t much better however, ranking #293. Expect a well played game at an average to below-average speed as Boston College protects the ball very well and Wisconsin doesn’t force many steals and turnovers due to their deliberate style of play. The Badgers have assisted on 63% of their made shots this year, a sign of a disciplined offensive system led by Jordan Taylor. We expect this to be a close game but Wisconsin has the edge in most areas and that should be good enough to advance to the finals of this tournament.
76 Classic Semifinal: Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State — 2:30 pm on ESPN (**)
Oklahoma State got by a pesky DePaul team in the first round on the back of Marshall Moses’ 27/9 on 11-14 FG while Virginia Tech rolled over Cal State Northridge. This game features a lot of statistical contrasts and most would seem to favor the Hokies. The most glaring of which has to be turnovers. Virginia Tech does turn the ball over too much but they also force a bunch due to their style of play. Oklahoma State turned it over 25 times against an up-tempo DePaul team while Virginia Tech forced the same number against Northridge. That doesn’t bode well for today’s matchup if you’re a Cowboy fan. The Hokies get to the line extremely well and that should give them a big advantage in this game. The Pokes of OSU foul a lot, ranking #321 in FTA/FGA, a measure of how often your opponent gets to the line. Virginia Tech doesn’t take advantage as much as they should, averaging 69% from the stripe. Malcolm Delaney is the creator and best player for Seth Greenberg while Jeff Allen has had a nice start to his senior season in the post (11.5/9/4). He’ll play a key role defending Moses if he chooses to enter the paint. Virginia Tech blocks a lot of shots, ranked #16 in blocked shot percentage. Oklahoma State is even better at #12 so expect a war in the paint. Neither team shoots or defends the three very well so a lot of the action should be confined to be inside the arc with guard penetration and dishing to guys like Allen and Darrell Williams for OSU. The Hokies have an edge in talent and Travis Ford still isn’t too sure about what to expect from his club in a transitional year. Virginia Tech is a solid favorite here and should advance. For Oklahoma State to win, they’ll need to do a great job controlling the ball and getting rebounds in order to limit opportunities for the Hokies.
NIT Season Tip-Off Championship: #6 Villanova vs. Tennessee — 5 pm on ESPN (****)
The story for Villanova this year has been their defense. The Wildcats rank #14 in defensive efficiency, vastly improved over last season. They’ve held opponents to 55 PPG on 33.4% shooting, #1 in the Big East in both categories. This has to make Jay Wright feel good because if his team can keep this up, they’re a potential final four contender with perhaps the best starting five in the Big East that’s high on experience. Villanova takes tremendous care of the basketball ranking fifth in turnover percentage while Tennessee isn’t very good at #209. That’ll play right into the hands of Villanova’s pressure defense which will look to disrupt Bruce Pearl’s turnover-prone Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris. Hopson had 18/11 in the Vols’ semifinal win over VCU but turned it over four times against the up-tempo Rams. Expect another track meet type of game as both teams like to push the ball up the floor and create more field goal attempts. Neither team shoots the three ball well (VU #241, UT #314), but Villanova does a great job on the defensive glass and at the free throw line, two things that will serve them well in a tight late game situation. Tennessee’s defense will have to continue to play well by limiting the stud Villanova guards. The Vols did a great job on VCU star Joey Rodriguez, holding him to 1-10 shooting and the Rams to 31% as a team. They’ll need more of that against the dynamic Corey Fisher and sharpshooter Corey Stokes. Harris and Brian Williams are going to need big games defensively inside against Mouphtaou Yarou and Antonio Pena. Villanova’s strength is in the back court but these two players combine for 19/16 and three blocks. Villanova’s issue is depth in the front court. Tennessee has to get Yarou and Pena in foul trouble to have a chance as that will force Jay Wright to turn to the inexperienced Maurice Sutton off the bench with JayVaughn Pinkston out due to suspension. Villanova is the better team but this is anyone’s game if Yarou and Pena don’t play well or get into foul trouble. We’ll pick the Wildcats, but don’t underestimate Bruce Pearl’s team. They’ve responded to adversity before and have an opportunity to do it again on the big stage tonight.
Some other interesting games on tap today:
Old Spice Classic Semifinal: Notre Dame vs. California — 5 pm on ESPN2 (***)
The upstart Bears are 3-0 after upsetting Temple last night in Orlando. Mike Montgomery’s team is getting to the line better than anyone else in the nation behind Jorge Gutierrez, even though they don’t shoot it particularly well from there. Cal did a tremendous job on Temple’s Juan Fernandez, holding the Argentinean point guard to 2-14 FG (0-7 from deep). Temple shot 2-19 from three against a Cal defense that ranked #285 against the trey coming into the game. Go figure. They’ll need another solid defensive effort against a Notre Dame team that loves to shoot it from deep. The Irish came back from 12 down at the break to force overtime and eventually won in the second overtime period. Tim Abromaitis led ND with 25/6 and appears to have really bulked up in the offseason, making him a threat inside the arc as well (he’s already established his three point shooting). We don’t know what to expect in this game but you’d have to favor Notre Dame. Another win for Cal would really put people on notice and they’d join Connecticut as the surprise teams of the year so far, though not to the degree of the Huskies.
Old Spice Classic Consolation Bracket: #24 Temple vs. Georgia — 7:30 pm on ESPNU (***)
Temple looked rusty after an 11-day layoff and the ESPN commentators certainly made people aware of that multiple times last night. While it may have been a factor, it cannot be an excuse for losing a game they shouldn’t lose. The Owls were stifled by a Cal defense that came into the game ranked #116 in efficiency. Temple just doesn’t shoot the ball well and the off game from Juan Fernandez set the tone. Fernandez runs the show and creates for a Temple offense that isn’t very good in the first place. When he struggles, the Owls are very vulnerable. Temple is dreadful from three, shooting 20% on the season (#309 overall). They’re second to last in all of D1 in getting to the charity stripe so almost all of their offense is generated inside the arc through Fernandez and Lavoy Allen. Temple’s strength is defense and rebounding, holding opponents to 54 PPG in three games and ranking third in limiting offensive rebounds for their opponent. Trey Thompkins returned for Georgia last night and went for 13/10 in 33 minutes of action. He’ll be an important factor against the strong Temple defense and he’ll bang with Allen in the post. To win, Georgia needs to shoot better from three, rebound and prevent turnovers. They probably won’t shoot well against Temple so they need as many opportunities as they can get. Another big game from Travis Leslie and a good contribution from Thompkins could push the Bulldogs to an upset win. Temple will win if they get back to their bread and butter of solid defense and Fernandez making things happen.
South Padre Invitational: St. Mary’s vs. Texas Tech — 8:30 pm on Fox College Sports (***)
This is a crucial game for Pat Knight’s Red Raiders, who need a quality win after falling to North Texas last week. Outside of a game at Washington in which they’ll be decided underdogs, Texas Tech has almost no opportunities to pick up a quality non-conference win outside of this two day tournament. The winner of this game likely gets BYU as the Cougars face South Florida in the other game. St. Mary’s is coming off a 69 point win over Chicago State, a game in which they made 13 three pointers led by Mickey McConnell’s 19 points on 5-6 from deep. David Tairu has been a pleasant surprise for Texas Tech, shooting 61% from the floor.
76 Classic Semifinal: #21 UNLV vs. Murray State — 9:30 pm on ESPNU (**)
UNLV has looked strong early on this season while the Racers beat a major conference team, knocking off Stanford last night. Murray State is the best team in the nation in turnover percentage but the Rebels keep good control of the ball, ranking first in minimizing steals while on offense. Another quirky stat is this: Murray State is dead last in D1 in two point FG% while UNLV is #1 in two point FG% defense. That should allow UNLV to win this game by itself. Chace Stanback and Oscar Bellfield have had great starts for the Rebels.