SEC Set Yer TiVo: Dead Week EditionPosted by Gerald Smith on December 13th, 2011
Students across SEC schools are finishing up their term papers and cramming for finals before the Christmas break. To help their students, most schools have scheduled a bunch of high-calorie cupcakes for this week’s game. Beware of the sugar crash! A team might sleep through their on-court exam and end up with an embarrassing grade.
Which games are worth the extra case of Red Bull, and which you should just sleep through?
Tennessee at Charleston — Wednesday, December 14 at 9 PM on ESPN2 and ESPN3 (***)
In the midst of a three-game losing streak — including an embarrassing 74-70 home loss to Austin Peay last Saturday — Tennessee has squandered a scrappy, feel-good start to the season. In order to build any momentum for being included on the NCAA Tournament bubble come March, Cuonzo Martin‘s team must stop the slide in the Carolina First Center. The College of Charleston has racked up an impressive 7-1 record this season with wins at Clemson and on a neutral court against UMass. They should win the Southern Conference and by extension make a potential win by Tennessee look especially good to the NCAA Selection Committee.
Tennessee will need to find the defensive pressure of olden times to pull off the upset. For the season the Cougars are shooting 46.6% from the field and all five starters shoot better than 45%. Tennessee is 0-4 when allowing their opponents to shoot better than 43% from the field. Charleston is getting out-rebounded by their opponents by an average of three per game. If Tennessee can use their athleticism and length to contest shots and dominate the defensive glass, it will fuel their transition game and possibly help them avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.
Presbyterian at South Carolina — Tuesday, December 13 at 7 PM on ESPN Full Court, ESPN3 and Fox College Sports (**)
Presbyterian has just enough talent and experience to be dangerous against Darrin Horn‘s team. The Blue Hose earned a 58-56 win at Cincinnati earlier in the year. Senior center Al’Lonzo Coleman (15.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG) and junior guard Khalid Mutakabbir (14.8 PPG, 88.5% FT) lead a Presbyterian team that has yet to find a consistant third double-digit scorer. The Blue Hose don’t force very many turnovers (average 10 per game), which is probably a relief to the turnover-prone Gamecocks. Expect South Carolina to ultimately win in a grind.
Florida Atlantic at Mississippi State — Tuesday, December 13 at 9 PM on ESPN Full Court and ESPN3 (*)
FAU has trouble keeping their opponents from scoring. Mississippi State is playing some of the better offensive basketball in the SEC. The Owls upset the Bulldogs last year in Humphrey Coliseum, which we are sure coach Rick Stansbury has reminded his players of a few times this weekend in practice.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Mississippi — Wednesday, December 14 at 7 PM on ESPN Full Court and ESPN3 (*)
The Ragin’ Cajuns scored 102 points against Dillard on Monday and have scored more than 70 points four other times this season. That won’t happen against Ole Miss.
South Florida at Auburn — Wednesday, December 14 at 9:30 PM on ESPN Full Court and ESPN3 (*)
The Most Interesting Man in the World doesn’t always watch college basketball, but when he does, he avoids Auburn’s non-conference schedule. The Tigers have yet to earn an interesting win this season. This match-up against a bland South Florida team does not break the mold.
UC-Irvine at LSU — Thursday, December 15 at 8 PM on ESPN Full Court and ESPN3 (*)
At long last, people in Baton Rogue will know what Anteater Gumbo tastes like.