Set Your TiVo: 11.17.11Posted by bmulvihill on November 17th, 2011
Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
Now that you have fully recovered from ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon, it’s time to jump into the first of the exotic preseason tournaments. The Puerto Rico Tip-Off gets going today, along with the big boys’ rounds of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer. Let’s take a look at the action.
Maryland vs. #16 Alabama – 5:00 PM EST on ESPN2 HD (**)
- Rarely do you see a team hit zero three-point shots and still win a game. However, that is exactly what Maryland did in its first game of the season against UNC-Wilmington. The Terps finished 0-9 from downtown, but managed to drain 58% of its twos. Mark Turgeon’s squad is going to have a tough time hitting such a high percentage of shots inside the arc against Alabama’s vaunted defense. While Terp forwards James Padgett and Ashton Pankey both scored in double figures in the opener, neither consistently demands enough attention to take scoring pressure off the guards. Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin needs to have another big game in order for the Terrapins to have a chance. If the Alabama defense can lock him up, there is not enough fire power elsewhere on Turgeon’s team to beat the Crimson Tide.
- Alabama is all about defense. They picked up right where they left off last year giving up only 0.8 points per possession through their first two games of the season. However, senior forward JaMychal Green should not be overlooked as a big time offensive threat. Green is averaging 18 points per game in only 25 minutes of action per night. Coach Anthony Grant’s team needs to improve its shooting, though. Alabama shot under 50% eFG in 20 of it’s 37 games last season and that trend is continuing again this season. While they finished a remarkable 10-10 in those games because of a stellar defense, it’s very difficult for a team to have major success shooting under 50% eFG. If the Tide is hitting more than half of its shots against Maryland, the game will not be close.
- This game hinges on Maryland’s ability to create baskets in transition. Maryland plays at a much faster pace than Alabama. If they get locked down in a halfcourt match-up with the Crimson Tide defense, the Terps’ offense will bog down because they do not have enough weapons in the low post. The team that dictates the pace and style of this game will ultimately win.
#21 Texas A&M vs. Mississippi State – 7:00 PM EST on ESPN2 HD (***)
- Texas A&M will be without star forward Khris Middleton tonight because of a partially torn meniscus. Luckily for the Aggies, junior forward Ray Turner has stepped right into the star scoring roll, hitting a stunning 81.8% of his shots through two games (18-22). At some point, Turner will come back to earth and the Aggie defense will have to continue to be strong. Billy Kennedy’s team is going to have to figure out a way to defend 6’11” Mississippi State center Arnett Moultrie and keep him away from the offensive glass. Aggie fowards David Loubeau and Turner are 6’8” and 6’9”, respectively, so size is an issue. Moultrie is averaging six offensive boards per game. If A&M is not boxing out on defense, they are going to have a hard time winning this game.
- It is becoming clear that the Bulldogs cannot rely on Renardo Sidney to be consistent or even be in the game. Sidney missed MSU’s last game against South Alabama with a groin injury. Moultrie is doing his part to make-up for Sidney, averaging 16 points and 12 rebounds, but the Bulldogs are going to need more consistency from point guard Dee Bost as well. Bost is only shooting 40% from the field and has more turnovers than assists. He is the catalyst for this offense. Mississippi State needs Bost to make shots and protect the ball to beat Texas A&M.
- Texas A&M has been rock solid on the defensive glass. Tonight they are running up against one of the best offensive rebounders in the country in Moultrie. Keep an eye on second-chance points for the Bulldogs. The game will hinge on their ability to pull down offensive boards and give either Bost, Moultrie, or guard Rodney Hood a chance to convert the basket.
#16 Arizona vs. St. John’s – 9:00 PM EST on ESPN2 HD (***)
- Although four Arizona players are averaging double figures through three games, the Wildcats are still looking for their go-to scorer and consistency on the offensive end. While turnovers have been an issue thus far and an interior presence is almost nonexistent, they continue to find a way to win. Watch for senior guard Kyle Fogg to step into a leadership role and push Arizona. He had a tough game against Duquesne but bounced back with 21 against Ball State.
- Before the season started, no one knew what to expect from St. John’s because almost the entire team was brand new. After three games, the team is undefeated and has several go-to options on the offensive end. God’s Gift Achiuwa, Maurice Harkless, and Nurideen Lindsey are all averaging over 15 points per game and D’Angelo Harrison is right behind them at 14 PPG. They have started slow in the first half of each of their games, however. We will be able to tell if this team is improving if they can put together two good halves of basketball against the Wildcats.
- These two teams are similar in the sense that both have been unable to put together a complete game from beginning to end. Additionally, it is clear that both teams are winning their games by getting to the free throw line. The difference is that the Red Storm is also putting other teams on the line a great deal. The winner of this game will be the team that wins the free throw battle.
The Official RTC Star System
***** – 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 2014
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game