Set Your Tivo: 12.03.10Posted by Brian Otskey on December 3rd, 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.
After an unexpectedly interesting game last night in Lawrence complete with controversy, your Friday night slate features a clash in the deep south and an intriguing battle out west. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.
UAB @ Georgia – 7 pm on FS South/ESPN3 (**)
Georgia had a very disappointing trip to Orlando last week for the Old Spice Classic, coming away with only one win. Even that win was a struggle, 61-58 over a bad Manhattan team. The Bulldogs did get Trey Thompkins back but he’s still trying to work himself back into game shape. Thompkins averaged 15/7 in the three games but turned the ball over almost four times a game. Georgia is not a very good defensive team, rated #104 in efficiency and #328 against the three. That will be a problem against a UAB team that features a 65% three-point shooter in forward Cameron Moore (18/9). Granted he’s only taken 17 treys so far this year, but he is a threat that could pull Thompkins away from the basket and open up the inside for point guard Aaron Johnson to distribute the ball. Johnson is averaging 10 points and a superb nine assists per contest this season. At 5’9 he really struggles shooting but makes up for that deficiency by getting others involved. UAB has only given up 61 PPG and is #14 in defending the three so Georgia is going to have to work hard for points. The Bulldogs are not a good three-point shooting team (29%) so they get most (62%) of their points from inside the arc. The good news for Georgia is that while they’re turnover prone, UAB doesn’t force many turnovers at all because they play a slower style. The rebounding battle will be important in this game and might very well determine the winner. Travis Leslie is an excellent rebounder for his size, pulling down nine a game. He’ll need to be on his game along with Thompkins for Georgia to control the glass, though UAB is a poor offensive rebounding team. Coach Mike Davis plays four guys at least 30 minutes per game so tired legs are something to watch for in the second half. The Bulldogs are the favorite at home but this really could be looked at as a toss-up game. UAB has some talent and they’ll certainly give Georgia a game tonight at Stegeman Coliseum.
#5 Kansas State @ Washington State – 11 pm on FSN (****)
On paper you’d say a top five Kansas State team should beat a Washington State club that finished last in the awful Pac-10 in 2009-10. When you take a closer look however, this is no walk in the park for the Wildcats. Ken Pomeroy put the twitter world on notice last night and we share his opinion. The Cougars are good and they’ll be ready to play in what should be a raucous home environment in Pullman late tonight. It is true that Washington State hasn’t been tested yet but some of their numbers are impressive. Ken Bone’s team ranks #4 in effective field goal percentage, second in two point percentage, #13 in defensive effective field goal percentage and fifth in three point defense. Those numbers are terrific but the biggest area of concern for the Cougars will be rebounding. It’s not like they’re a bad rebounding team but WSU is going up against a talented group of Wildcats that plays an extremely physical brand of basketball. Kansas State is #22 in offensive rebounding percentage and pulls down an average of 40 RPG. Frank Martin is still trying to figure out his rotation but he’s been giving good minutes to ten players on his roster. Led by the great inside-outside combo of Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly, Kansas State can keep throwing fresh bodies at you all game long. However, Martin’s team is flawed in three key areas: turnovers, free throw shooting and three point defense. K-State shoots a dreadful 53% from the charity stripe and has only two players over 70%. Turnover margin will be problematic against a Washington State team that takes good care of the ball and doesn’t force the issue. Three point defense will be important against Wazzu star Klay Thompson (22/5/5, 53% FG) and sharpshooter Faisal Aden who’s hitting 42% of his treys and 52% overall this year in averaging 21 PPG. The Cougar backcourt also features Marcus Capers, an effective point guard averaging 7/7/4 and also a very strong defender. His task will be to lock up Pullen, something Duke did effectively in handing Kansas State its only loss. One of the more interesting stat lines you’ll see belongs to Washington State’s 6’9 Australian Brock Motum who has made 22 of 26 field goals (85%) including four of five from beyond the arc, but just two of eight free throws (25%) in 19 minutes a game. We have a feeling this is going to be a tremendous game coming right down to the end. Wazzu is looking to make its mark as a competitor with Washington, Arizona and UCLA atop the Pac-10 while Kansas State could use a nice road win having not played a game outside of Manhattan or Kansas City yet. The Wildcats need Rodney McGruder to get going from deep as he’s just hitting 30% from the arc after shooting 42% last season. He’ll be a key player against the tough Cougar defense, especially around the arc. This is another game that could go either way and may come down to a free throw shooting contest between two clubs that are, to say the least, not very good from the line.
One Big Five game this evening:
Saint Joseph’s @ #9 Villanova – 8:45 pm on ESPNU (**)
The Holy War tips off for the 68th time with Villanova holding a 43-24 edge dating back to 1921 when this series started. This game doesn’t figure to be close on paper but Big Five games are always intense and usually very competitive. To give you another reason to tune in, Bill Raftery will be calling this one for ESPNU.