Set Your Tivo: Christmas Weekend EditionPosted by Brian Otskey on December 24th, 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.
Not much action over the Christmas holiday but we do have a few interesting games on tap this weekend. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.
#11 Baylor vs. Florida State (in Honolulu, HI) – 7:30 pm Saturday on ESPN2 (***)
Baylor’s strong defense was torched by Washington State’s terrific balance to the tune of 57% shooting. When you don’t make shots and don’t defend, you usually don’t win. That was the case as Baylor shot 37% but was remarkably in the game due to a surge fueled by LaceDarius Dunn and their dominance on the boards. The Cougars were up by 20 at one point but Baylor came back and even took the lead before faltering in the end. Meanwhile, Florida State continued its offensive struggles in a loss to Butler. The Seminoles turn it over too much and are highly inefficient when they have the ball. Expect that to continue against a taller and longer Baylor defense. You’d have to think this will be a low scoring game but Baylor does have the potential to break out offensively. Anyone who watched yesterday’s game saw Dunn singlehandedly take over the game and bring the Bears back to give them a shot. Scott Drew’s team cut down on the turnovers but really struggled to find the range against a fundamentally sound Washington State defense. One key area to watch is Chris Singleton’s defense against the Baylor bigs, specifically Quincy Acy. Acy had a double-double against Washington State but really had to work for it. Singleton has the potential to disrupt him, giving FSU a chance. Leonard Hamilton’s best strategy may be to let Dunn get his points and focus on defending the Baylor supporting cast. Dunn and Acy combined for 45 of Baylor’s 71 points against Wazzu so keying in on Acy could be difference for Florida State. The Seminoles are going to have to hold Baylor under 65 points to have a chance as it’s highly unlikely they’ll reach that plateau themselves. Interior defense and turnovers will be the big stories in this game. It’s a very interesting matchup but one where Baylor should have too much offense for Florida State to handle. The Bears have three solid scoring options in Dunn, Acy and Perry Jones, something the Seminoles can’t quite match. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Florida State play well and have a chance to win but Baylor should be able to close the door and grab third place at the Diamond Head Classic.
Washington State vs. Butler (in Honolulu, HI) – 10 pm Saturday on ESPN2 (***)
This is an intriguing matchup between a team that’s really solid on both ends (Washington State) and one that struggles to shoot but can defend well at times and really disrupt a team’s offensive flow (Butler). Washington State is in the top ten in both offensive and defensive effective field goal percentage while Butler is #219 in the same category on the offensive side of the ball. Klay Thompson and Faisal Aden give Washington State two strong threats from deep with Thompson hitting the dagger three to put Baylor away on Thursday. On Saturday they’ll go up against Butler’s top-rated three point defense, allowing just 26% shooting. However, the Bulldogs are vulnerable in the paint and that could the difference in this game. With DeAngelo Casto and Brock Motum inside, Ken Bone has two offensive threats in the paint that Butler cannot match. The Bulldogs have Matt Howard but nobody else has emerged as the second inside threat. On the perimeter, Butler has struggled shooting the trey. They did well against Florida State behind Shelvin Mack but Brad Stevens can’t count on that every night from his team. The rebounding battle is something to watch and should determine who controls the pace of the game. Washington State isn’t a fast-paced team but they run an efficient offense with good screens and cuts. Butler will look to limit second opportunities and slow the game down, falling back into an aggressive man-to-man defense on the perimeter. Stevens may mix in a zone or two to confuse the Cougars but they can’t allow Wazzu to shoot over them and expect to win. Butler fouls a lot but Washington State doesn’t get many points from the line, nor do they shoot it very well. If the Cougars are to win, it’ll be through strong defense leading to scores on the other end. If Wazzu takes good care of the ball, it’s hard to see them losing this game. For the Bulldogs, they absolutely must rebound well in order to have a chance. Butler will scrap and defend hard but they’re a bit too limited offensively to keep up with Washington State’s dynamic scorers, specifically Thompson. He’ll be the difference in this game in what should be a Cougar title in Hawaii.
Richmond @ Seton Hall – 12 pm Sunday on ESPN3.com (***)
Richmond has been a bit up and down but is 9-3 with victories over Purdue in Chicago and at Arizona State, though they’ve also lost to Iona and Georgia Tech away from home as well. Seton Hall has lost to every decent opponent they have played, entering the game with a 6-5 record. The Pirates are just 4-4 since star senior Jeremy Hazell went down with a broken wrist late in the win over Alabama on November 19. Three of those wins came against cupcakes and the fourth was a blowout victory at struggling Massachusetts. Richmond has a lot of matchups in its favor in this battle. The Spiders are a good shooting team while Seton Hall really struggles to put the ball in the basket. Richmond is in the top ten in effective field goal percentage and the top 30 in both three and two point shooting. Point guard Kevin Anderson leads the way while shooting 45% from deep. Anderson is a dynamic scorer and playmaker who’s enjoyed a solid career while really improving his three point shot this season. Coach Chris Mooney has a nice inside-outside combination going between Anderson and 6’10 Justin Harper, a big man who can actually step out and hit a three with some consistency. They’ll look to take advantage of that against a thin Pirates frontline that suffered another blow after Ferrakohn Hall decided to transfer earlier this week. Herb Pope is still not 100% and Jeff Robinson is undersized when trying to guard guys like Harper or Dan Geriot. Seton Hall was abused inside by Dayton in their last game, one where the home standing Pirates blew a 14-point halftime lead. Neither team is a great rebounding club but Richmond should hold the edge on the glass with Harper and Geriot inside. Expect Kevin Willard’s team to fire up a lot of three’s, yet another former Rick Pitino assistant who loves the trifecta regardless of the capabilities of his players. As we mentioned, Seton Hall is not a good shooting team yet they average 21 three point attempts per game, connecting on just seven. When Jamel Jackson isn’t hitting from deep (four for his last 19), Seton Hall has no perimeter threats with Hazell out. Expect the deliberate Spiders to slow the game down, reducing transition opportunities for the Pirates. Against Dayton, Seton Hall ran out to a big halftime lead in large part due to transition buckets. They dried up in the second half and the result was a Dayton comeback win. Seton Hall is much better defensively than they were under Bobby Gonzalez but that likely won’t be enough against a solid Richmond team that’s good on both sides of the ball. The Pirates are just 1-3 against the A-10 this year and we expect them to fall to 1-4 after this one.