Set Your Tivo: 11.28.10Posted by Brian Otskey on November 28th, 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.
Sunday is the last day of all hoops, all the time. We have some good championship games and a great in-state battle later this evening but it’s back to reality tomorrow. Rankings as per the latest RTC Top 25. All times eastern.
Old Spice Classic Fifth Place Game: #24 Temple vs. Texas A&M – 11 am on ESPNU (***)
Neither team has to be happy with their position in this tournament. Texas A&M probably feels they should have beaten Boston College in the first round and would have been playing for third at worst. On the other hand Temple, the co-favorite along with Wisconsin in this field, has been very disappointing. The Owls suffered an inexplicable loss to rebuilding California on Thursday but did get by Georgia in their second outing. The story for Temple has been the struggle of point guard Juan Fernandez. He is shooting just 5-23 (22%) overall and 1-12 (8%) from three in this tournament. Moreover, Fernandez is averaging only 2.5 assists here and has a 0.71 assist to turnover ratio for these two games. This is a guy who shot 43% last year and had an A/T ratio of 1.85. Fernandez is such a play maker that when you lock him up, Temple goes south. The action in this game centers on the forwards, Lavoy Allen for Temple and Khris Middleton for A&M. Middleton has averaged 19.5 in two games at Disney while Allen is a steady low block presence for the Owls. The Aggies average more rebounds than Temple but Fran Dunphy’s team does a nice job on the defensive glass. Texas A&M is #2 in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage so this area will be one to watch. It’s an early start so expect a little rust offensively in a close game that should be in the 50’s or low 60’s.
Old Spice Classic Championship Game: #25 Wisconsin vs. Notre Dame – 7 pm on ESPN2 (***)
This is your classic battle between two teams that play almost completely opposite styles. Wisconsin emphasizes discipline and efficiency on offense and plays strong defense under Bo Ryan. Notre Dame likes to shoot the three and capitalize offensively, not paying as much attention to the other facet of basketball. Both teams rank in the top 15 in offensive efficiency but the real contrast is on defense. The Irish, #87 in defensive efficiency, gave up 155 points in the two games prior to a strong defensive effort against California in the semifinals, holding the Bears to an astounding five first half points and 44 for the game. Offense has been at a premium in this tournament and you’d figure that trend will continue in this game today. Jon Leuer has been rock solid for Wisconsin however, leading the Badgers at 18 PPG on the season and 17 per game at the Old Spice. Wisconsin did break out of their mini-shooting slump against BC, hitting 26-57 (46%) from the floor. Neither team forces many turnovers and both take good care of the ball so this figures to be a clean, well played game. Notre Dame could use a good rebounding effort from Tyrone Nash and Tim Abromaitis, while freshman point guard Eric Atkins has to hold his own against Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor. This is going to be a good game and should be close throughout. Wisconsin has to be favored though and should take home the Old Spice title.
#20 Florida @ Florida State – 7:45 pm on FSN (****)
Leonard Hamilton and the Florida State Seminoles begin a huge week against in-state rival Florida. FSU welcomes Ohio State to Tallahassee on Tuesday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, but first things first against the Gators. Florida State is one of the best defensive teams in the country, ranking #1 in defensive efficiency last season and #4 so far this year. The problem for the Seminoles in 2009-10 was offense, but that has improved behind junior forward Chris Singleton. The reigning ACC defensive player of the year has added another dimension to his game this season. Averaging 17/11, Singleton has propelled FSU to a 5-0 start, albeit against a very soft schedule. Still, the games have not been competitive and the ‘Noles have taken care of business against inferior teams. Singleton had a triple-double against UNC Greensboro (22/11, 10 steals) and also hit for 30 points and 12 boards against Gardner-Webb. It’s not a one man show however, as Derwin Kitchen and Deividas Dulkys have had nice starts to their seasons as well. Florida State has a lot of big guards and wings that really harass other teams on the three point line and while trying to penetrate. If they happen to get by, a strong front line awaits. FSU has blocked an average of nine shots per game so far. For Florida, the Gators were exposed in a home loss to Ohio State. Florida doesn’t defend nearly as well, ranking #221 against the three and #215 inside the arc, not a good formula for defensive success. Billy Donovan has to be thankful for his offense, rated #6 in efficiency and shooting over 50% from the field. Behind Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker, Florida averages 18 three point attempts per game. Boynton in particular has to become more effective, making just 31% of his treys and shooting just under 30% from deep for his career, still in its early stages. Florida has four guys averaging double figures and Donovan can always turn to a fresh body off a deep bench. The Gators are at a disadvantage scoring and rebounding wise on paper in this game. How do they make up for that? By forcing turnovers. Florida State does not take great care of the ball, turning it over an average of 18 times per game. Against Florida’s trapping pressure defense, FSU may have a lot of difficulty. This is anybody’s game if Florida State turns it over a lot, but we like the Seminoles at home in this one. With Singleton on the roster, FSU has the best player on both ends of the floor. For Florida to win, they have to force lots of turnovers and shoot well above average against a stout Florida State defense. The Gators are good but FSU is very underrated. Expect a war tonight in Tallahassee.
76 Classic Championship Game: #21 UNLV vs. Virginia Tech – 9 pm on ESPN2 (****)
Lon Kruger’s Rebels are off to a 5-0 start and have a legitimate chance of getting to 12-0 if they can win tonight and get by Louisville on December 11. UNLV has a really good starting five, led by Chace Stanback (17 PPG, 66% FG), with Tre’Von Willis coming off the bench for now after his suspension. Willis has struggled to get back in the swing of things but his team hasn’t been set back. In fact, UNLV has established itself as a contender in the Mountain West along with San Diego State and BYU. The men from Vegas are an outstanding shooting team (55.5% FG, 43% 3-pt FG) and rank #21 in offensive efficiency. The defense isn’t too shabby either, ranked #25. UNLV is ranked in the top ten in effective field goal percentage for both offense and defense. Their opponent, Virginia Tech, struggles scoring and shooting the ball but makes up for it with a strong defense, rated #11 in efficiency. Seth Greenberg has a three headed monster making up 64% of his offensive output. All-American candidate Malcolm Delaney leads the way and will go head to head with UNLV’s Oscar Bellfield. This is a critical matchup as ball control and outside shooting are both going to be important. Virginia Tech is turnover-prone with Delaney averaging a stunning 6.2 turnovers per game this season. The Hokies do make up for that though, forcing quite a bit of turnovers with an up-tempo style of play. The difference in this game could be inside with Stanback going up against Jeff Allen, a nice matchup of forwards. The rebounding battle may determine the outcome and neither team has a clear advantage. Virginia Tech is not a good offensive rebounding team but UNLV gives up many so something has to give when it comes to that. With a good outside shooting performance, UNLV can take control of this game from the arc. The Hokies do not shoot or defend the three well at all and that’s going to hurt them against such a good shooting team. Virginia Tech is a good team and can certainly win this game but the Rebels are an underrated club with a lot of weapons. Greenberg doesn’t have a deep team and you may see the effects of that down the stretch. We expect this one to be another close game but the edge has to go to the Rebels.
Other games worth keeping an eye on:
Old Spice Classic Third Place Game: Boston College vs. California – 1 pm on ESPNU (**)
Who knows what to make of California after beating Temple and embarrassing themselves against Notre Dame. This figures to be an ugly, low scoring game between two teams who’ve been offensively challenged of late. Jorge Gutierrez must have a good game for Cal.
College of Charleston @ North Carolina – 5:30 pm on FSN (**)
Everyone knows what happened last year when these teams got together. UNC was ranked in the top ten and the loss to Charleston started their plunge towards the bottom of the ACC. Charleston already visited a solid Maryland team and gave them all they could handle. It’s not unrealistic to think they could give the Tar Heels a game as well. Roy Williams is going to have his hands full trying to defend the inside-outside tandem of Andrew Goudelock and Jeremy Simmons.
76 Classic Third Place Game: Oklahoma State vs. Murray State – 6 pm on ESPNU (**)
Murray State knocked off Stanford on Thursday and they now face another middling major conference opponent. Oklahoma State is a bit better than Stanford, but Murray’s turnover-creating defense may cause problems for the poor shooting Pokes. The good news for Travis Ford? Murray State is even worse offensively.
Creighton @ Northwestern – 8:30 pm on Big Ten Network (***)
This is a very important game for a Northwestern team that did a poor job scheduling in a year they could compete for their first NCAA berth. After Creighton, NU plays a down Georgia Tech team in their only other opportunity for a decent win out of conference. After a string of cupcakes, Northwestern begins Big Ten play on New Year’s Eve against Purdue. They have another non-conference game sandwiched in but that’s against the punching bag otherwise known as SIU-Edwardsville. If Northwestern doesn’t win tonight and fails to win ten Big Ten games, they’ll look back on this game as a big missed opportunity. The Bluejays have one loss, to Iowa State on a blown call. Jamie Vanderbeken’s 40-foot heave was clearly after the buzzer, keeping the Cyclones undefeated though the game would have continued into overtime.