Set Your TiVo: 11.29.11Posted by bmulvihill on November 29th, 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.
The ACC/Big Ten Challenge kicks off tonight with several outstanding games. There are two games in particular that every college hoops fan should enjoy thoroughly. Let’s go ahead and break down the action.
#15 Michigan at Virginia – 7 PM EST on ESPN2 HD (****)
- The biggest take away from Maui for the Wolverines was freshman point guard Trey Burke’s ability to run the Wolverine offense. Michigan will need Burke to continue to drive the offense against a very good Virginia defense. John Beilein’s team currently is the #1 team in the country in two-point field goal percentage (62.8%). However, the team is struggling from beyond the arc and at the free throw line. They are also struggling to get to the line. This is probably a result of their frequent three-point attempts (39% of their shots come from downtown). In what may shape up to be a half-court battle, Michigan must find a way to get to the line more frequently. If Michigan is able to reduce their three-point shots like they did against UCLA and drive the ball to the lane with Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., the team will be on its way to a win against the Cavaliers.
- Virginia’s defense has been nothing short of spectacular this year. They are holding teams to an effective field goal percentage of 37%, which is good for fifth in the nation. Expect the Cavalier’s defense to force the Wolverines to shoot from the outside by playing zone. On the other side of the ball, the Virginia offense runs on free throws. If they are not getting to the line, they will have a difficult time winning the game. This is mostly because Tony Bennett’s team is struggling on the offensive glass and is turning the ball over on almost 22% of their possessions. Since the Cavaliers play at a slow pace, poor offensive rebounding and turnovers result in empty possessions and offensive inefficiency. They will have to improve in both areas to beat Michigan.
- The Cavaliers have the best defense that Michigan has faced thus far and the Wolverines have the best offense Virginia has faced thus far. The game will come down to which team executes its strength in the half-court more effectively. If you see Virginia forcing Michigan to shoot a lot from the outside, they will have a better shot at winning. If the Maize and Blue is finding smart shots from inside the arc and pulling down the offensive boards, expect them to win in a slugfest.
#4 Duke at #2 Ohio State – 9:30PM EST on ESPN HD (*****)
- Duke faced its toughest test of the season in the championship of the Maui Invitational against Kansas. Once again they got timely three-point shooting from yet another contributor, this time Tyler Thornton, to hold off the Jayhawks. Kansas forwards Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey combined for 30 points and 25 rebounds, however. With Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas manning the low post for the Buckeyes, coach Mike Krzyzewski is going to have to put an emphasis on interior defense and rebounding. The Blue Devils need to have more than just Mason Plumlee willing to get after it in the paint on defense. Look for brother Miles Plumlee to step-up in this contest. If he doesn’t, Sullinger may have his way on the interior against the Blue Devils.
- Ohio State has not played the level of competition this season that Duke has save Florida. The Gators were able to keep Sullinger at bay for the most part, but ultimately put the Buckeyes on the line too many times and turned the ball over too much. With very little else in the way of competition thus far, the Buckeyes have something to prove against what might be the most dangerous offense in the country in the Blue Devils. With Duke shooting an astronomical 45.9% from three, OSU guards Aaron Craft, William Buford, and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. are going to have to put a lot of pressure on Duke’s outside shooters. The inside presence of Sullinger and Thomas should enable the Buckeye guards to play more aggressively out towards the three-point line. Keep an eye on the 6’6” Buford on defense. He should be able to create some disruption on the perimeter by making it difficult for Duke guards to shoot over his long arms.
- Duke has proven they can get scoring from almost any of their players at any given time in the game. It makes them very, very difficult to defend. As difficult as it may be, Ohio State is going to have to win this game on defense. They cannot just try to outscore Coach K’s team. If you see this game turning into an offensive free for all, Ohio State will get taken out on their home court. However, if you see Sullinger eating up the defensive glass and Craft and Buford playing lock down defense on the perimeter, Ohio State can beat the mighty Blue Devils.
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