Set Your Tivo: 12.15.10Posted by Brian Otskey on December 15th, 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.
We told you last night’s games would be very interesting and boy were they ever. Louisville and Tennessee were upset victims at home but neither upset was shocking given the matchups we discussed in this space yesterday, plus both teams were due for a letdown. Tonight’s slate is not good at all so don’t expect much action this evening. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.
Akron @ #19 Minnesota – 8:30 pm on Big Ten Network (*)
Akron was blasted by Temple in their last game and really struggles offensively. The Zips don’t stand much of a chance in this game so one strategy may be to live or die by the three as Minnesota’s opponents get a lot of points courtesy of the trifecta. However, Akron is not a good three point shooting team to begin with, #221 in the country, but taking a page out of Virginia’s playbook could make this game somewhat competitive, at least for a while. The Cavaliers bombed away from the arc in a stunning second half turnaround against the Golden Gophers en route to a surprising win at the Barn. Akron’s Brett McClanahan and Darryl Roberts are the biggest threats but McClanahan is just seven for his last 23 (30%) from deep. The senior Roberts shoots it well at 42% and also connects 92% of the time at the foul line. Minnesota will look to take advantage with their superior size and skill inside led by Trevor Mbakwe (14/10). Mbakwe is shooting 61% overall, scoring in double figures each game so far and is clearly the most athletic of the Minnesota big men. Akron opponents get 58% of their scoring from two point range so expect Tubby Smith to exploit this early and often to build up a lead. Minnesota also has an outside threat with Blake Hoffarber at 41% from three, now hot after a little slump to start the season. Akron is also a poor rebounding team with only one major contributor taller than 6’8, center Zeke Marshall. Even without point guard Al Nolen (probably won’t play), Minnesota is too deep and too talented for Akron to compete with. The Gophers should win this game easily.
Auburn @ South Florida– 9 pm on ESPNU (*)
As you can tell, we’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find any games to preview. Quite frankly this game isn’t worth much analysis but there aren’t really many to choose from. UC Santa Barbara against UNLV would be a better game but it isn’t on television. Anyway, back to this one. Auburn is probably the worst major conference team this year as Tony Barbee needs time to rebuild this program with all of the emphasis on football. The Tigers are one of the youngest and least experienced teams in the nation, just 2-5 against D1. They struggle to score and defend, obviously an awful combination. Andre Malone does shoot 46% from the arc but he’s got hardly any help around him. 6’5 wing Earnest Ross averages 12/8 but shoots just 36% from the floor overall. To have a chance Auburn will need to have a fluky shooting night and a strong rebounding effort. The Tigers do rebound somewhat well but that’s mostly due to all the missed shots from their 41% shooting as a team. South Florida will be playing without big man Augustus Gilchrist, out for having “philosophical differences” with coach Stan Heath. USF also struggles to score, averaging just 61 PPG. The Bulls have a decent front court but their guard play is really lacking. They average 17 turnovers per game and have a hard time getting the ball to the guys who can score. Anthony Crater does the best he can but has little help around him, turning it over almost as often as he creates an assist. With Gilchrist out, look for Ron Anderson and Jarrid Famous to do most of the work offensively in the paint for the Bulls. Auburn will have a tough time dealing with them, plus USF ranks #18 in two point defense which will make it extremely difficult for Auburn to score inside. The Tigers should look to score from the outside but they shoot just 33% as a team. Even without Gilchrist, USF should win this game.