Set Your TiVo: 12.01.11Posted by bmulvihill on December 1st, 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 conference challenges roll on as the Big East / SEC Challenge gets started with two games at home for the SEC. Let’s take a look at the action for Thursday night.
St. John’s at #1 Kentucky – 7:30PM EST on ESPN2 HD (**)
- After a quick 3-0 start, St. John’s has dropped its last three out of four including a home loss to Northeastern. With such a young team and Steve Lavin’s health situation, Red Storm fans should expect this type of up and down play all season. The Red Storm have four starters scoring in double figures, but their bench is extremely thin. When faced with an athletic, hard-charging team like Kentucky fatigue will probably be a factor by the second half. While the Red Storm shoots a very respectable 54% from two, their three-point shooting is an abysmal 27.7%. Look for Kentucky to pack the lane and clean up the defensive boards.
- Kentucky’s defense has been incredible all year. Granted the Wildcats have not faced an extremely difficult schedule thus far, they are still holding teams to an eFG of 36%. Additionally, their block rate is an astronomical 25%. If St. John’s continues to struggle from outside the arc and cannot extend the Wildcat defense, expect a block party in Lexington. The UK offense is firing on all cylinders as well. John Calipari’s team has five players averaging double figures and key contributors off the bench in Kyle Wiltjer and Eloy Vargas. If Kentucky continues to play offense and defense like they have thus far, this game will not be close.
- Playing in Lexington is a tall task for any team. However, playing without your coach (Lavin needs more time to recover from prostate surgery) and playing with such a young team makes the task nearly impossible. While St. John’s may be able to keep the game close for a short period of time on sheer athleticism, expect this one to get ugly by the second half.
Georgetown at #11 Alabama – 9:30PM EST on ESPN2 HD (***)
- Georgetown is off to a solid start with a close loss to Kansas and a tough overtime win against Memphis in Maui. As a team, they are taking excellent care of the basketball, only turning the ball over on 14.9% of their possessions. They are going to need to continue to take care of the ball against an extremely tough Alabama defense. If the Hoyas can continue to be smart with the ball and take smart shots (55.7% from two), they can compete with anyone. Alabama will not make that easy. Keep an eye on the offensive rebound numbers for Georgetown. They had a tough time grabbing offensive boards against Kansas and it cost them. Alabama is not a very tall team so watch for Georgetown’s 6’10” center Henry Sims to take advantage. If he and the rest of the Hoyas cannot grab their misses, they will lose again.
- As expected, Alabama’s defense is carrying them so far this season. It’s a luxury to be shooting under 50% eFG for the season and still be able to win games against solid opponents like Oakland and Purdue. However, Georgetown will be the best shooting team the Tide has faced thus far. Keep an eye on how Anthony Grant’s team responds to a smart shooting team like the Hoyas. JaMychal Green, Tony Mitchell, and Trevor Releford are going to have have to step up their scoring effort. Keep an eye on which of the Alabama bench players gives the team an offensive lift because additional scoring is going to have to come from somewhere.
- This games reminds us a lot of the Michigan-Virginia game. A solid two-point shooting team in its first true road game of the season against a spectacular defense. Expect the Hoyas to miss more shots than they normally do. However, their ability to win will hinge on their work on the offensive glass. Alabama’s defense is too strong for Georgetown to go one and done each trip.
***** – 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