Set Your Tivo: 12.09.10Posted by Brian Otskey on December 9th, 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.
A clash of offense vs. defense in Philly and a huge game between two teams needing a big win headline tonight’s schedule. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.
#8 Georgetown @ Temple – 9 pm on ESPN (****)
Temple earned their biggest win of the year in Washington, D.C. on Sunday night defeating Maryland in the BB&T Classic. Tonight they welcome Georgetown to the Liacouras Center hoping to pick up their fourth win over a power conference team. Temple ranks #7 in defensive efficiency while Georgetown is #6 in offensive efficiency so it’ll be interesting to see which team can impose their will on the other. After all, you’d have to figure something has to give. There are also two great individual matchups, one at the point guard position and the other in the paint. Chris Wright runs the offense for the Hoyas and he’ll go up against Juan Fernandez. They’re both point guards but one can really stroke it. Wright shoots the three extremely well and has distributed the ball effectively, averaging seven assists per contest. Fernandez lacks a strong shooting game but uses his body and basketball IQ to his advantage, driving to the bucket and creating for his teammates. His production is down a bit this year but he’s still a dynamic threat when he has the ball in his hands. In the post we’ll see Georgetown’s Julian Vaughn battle for position and rebounds with Temple’s Lavoy Allen. Each player averages seven rebounds per game and whoever holds the edge on the glass stands a good chance to win this game. Extra rebounds will give Georgetown more opportunities to get the ball back out to the perimeter where they’re one of the best in the country while Temple will look to use extra possessions in the paint. The Owls get 67% of their points inside the arc, tops in the nation in that department. Georgetown is the complete opposite, leaning on the back court trio of Wright, Austin Freeman and Jason Clark for 63% of their scoring output. Freeman is 25-46 (54%) on the year from three while averaging 20 points each time out. The preseason Big East player of the year has lived up to the hype and carried Georgetown to a top ten ranking. Clark has seen his minutes drop by two a game but his production has increased drastically. He’s the glue guy for John Thompson III, a steady hand and a clutch shooter in late game situations. One area of concern for Georgetown tonight will be turnovers. The Hoyas average 15 per game and cannot afford to be handing out extra possessions on the road in what should be a hostile arena. This is Temple’s marquee non-conference home game so you can expect the Philly fans to be ready to rock. Temple can win this game by shutting down Georgetown’s three point attack and you have to believe Fran Dunphy emphasized that in practice this week. Georgetown is the better team however and has already won two games in tough environments, at Old Dominion and against Missouri in Kansas City. This will be a close game but Georgetown has the talent and experience to come away with a very good road win.
Butler @ Xavier – 9 pm on ESPN2 (***)
The main reason to watch this game might be to see who wants it more. Both teams are in need of a quality win and while each is a bit down from where they’re accustomed to being, the name recognition of a win tonight could go a long way come March. Butler is just 3-3 against D1 competition after falling to #1 Duke on Saturday. The Bulldogs were upset by Evansville at home on November 27, putting them in a precarious position. They have just two more opportunities for decent non-conference wins, tonight and on December 18 against a Stanford team not expected to do much in the Pac 10. To say this game is critical for Butler would be an understatement. As for Xavier, the Musketeers sit at 5-2 but haven’t beaten anyone of note. Iowa and Seton Hall, their best wins, have both gotten off to rough starts so Xavier needs to make up some ground in a hurry. They didn’t help the cause by losing to Miami (OH) last week but they do have four more opportunities to pick up quality wins after tonight, a luxury Butler does not have. There are two key matchups to watch in this game tonight. The first is between Xavier’s Tu Holloway and Butler’s Ronald Nored. Holloway has been a one man wrecking crew for the X-men, averaging 24 points and shooting 48% in an average of 41 minutes per game. Holloway went 51 minutes in a triple overtime win over Wofford and has played at least 39 minutes in every game so far. Nored, who came back from a concussion on Saturday, has a reputation as a lock down defender. That will be his primary responsibility against Xavier because if he can contain Holloway, Butler has a very good chance to win this game. Also keep an eye up front as the Bulldogs’ Matt Howard (16/9) takes on Jamel McLean (11/10). The battle for rebounds will be very important. Xavier does a poor job on the offensive boards while Butler is ranked #21 in offensive rebounding percentage against. If Howard can stay out of foul trouble, expect Butler to hold the edge here. The key for Xavier is getting to the foul line where they rank ninth in free throws per field goals attempted and shoot 74% as a team. In fact, Xavier gets 28% of its points from the stripe, a statistic that has to scare Brad Stevens. Butler is ranked just #308 in opponents’ free throws per field goals and shoots only 69% as a team when they are able to get to the line. Putting Xavier on the line will result in a large deficit that the Bulldogs will have to overcome in other areas. Butler is not a very good shooting team inside the arc so you may see them attempt more three’s than usual with Shelvin Mack and Zach Hahn leading the way. Even Howard can step out and knock down a trey as he’s made 6-14 this year. The Cintas Center can get really loud and we expect the Xavier fans to be pumped up for this one. Coach Chris Mack urged the fans to come out for this one in a tweet last night knowing how important this game is. Expect a very close game between two solid clubs with free throw shooting, defense and rebounding having the most significant impact on the final result.