Set Your TiVo: 12.13.11Posted by bmulvihill on December 13th, 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.
After a flurry of games to start the season, most teams slow things down a bit as students head into finals and winter break. There are still some intriguing matches during the week, particularly a mid-major rematch that thrilled fans just three weeks ago. Let’s get to the action.
#14 Wisconsin at Milwaukee – 8:00 PM EST on ESPN3 (***)
- After back-to-back losses to North Carolina and Marquette, Wisconsin has bounced back with wins against Wisconsin-Green Bay and UNLV. The Badgers continue to play the slowest basketball in the country at 59 possessions per game. Their style isn’t for everybody, but it certainly creates problems for opposing teams, particularly on the offensive end. Bo Ryan’s club leads the nation in defensive efficiency and is currently only allowing teams to shoot 36.1% from two and 24.6% from three. With very little in the way of offensive firepower, Milwaukee’s biggest issue during the game will be finding a way to score on the rock solid UW defense.
- Milwaukee possess its own solid defense as well. They rank 14th in the nation in three-point defense, allowing teams to shoot only 25% from downtown. Three-pointers are a significant part of the Badger offense, so it will be interesting to see if Milwaukee can continue to defend the perimeter against a team that shoots a hefty amount of three’s at a 40% conversion rate. It will be imperative for the Panther’s to limit second chance points for the Badgers, as well. Wisconsin had its lowest offensive rebounding rates of the season in its two losses.
- Milwaukee needs to find offense quickly or this game will turn into a blow-out. The Badgers do not make mistakes, they defend the ball extremely well, and they hit the defensive boards really hard. The Panthers will have to stay patient and take smart shots near the basket. If you see the Panthers getting frustrated on offense and taking ill-advised shots, they are in for a long night.
Belmont at Middle Tennessee – 8:00PM EST on ESPN3 (****)
- Belmont and Middle Tennessee played a double-OT thriller in their match-up just three weeks ago, with the Bruins coming out on top 87-84. It’s not too often you get to see a rematch like this during the non-conference season, but we’re lucky enough to get one between two strong mid-majors. Belmont was able to bury the Blue Raiders in two-point shots last time out as Rick Byrd’s team hit 63% (27-43) of its two-point attempts. Look for the Bruins to continue to shoot twos and hammer the offensive glass. Also, keep an eye on Belmont’s turnovers. They only turn the ball over 15.1% of the time and won the turn over battle last time out 19-12.
- In the previous match-up, Middle Tennessee hit more threes, made more free throws, out rebounded the Bruins, had more blocks, and less personal fouls. Nine times out of the ten, that will win you a ball game. However, they could not stop Belmont inside the arc and had way too many turnovers (19). If they can defend down low better and limit the mistakes, Middle Tennessee has the shooters to win this game. The Blue Raiders are 5th in the country in two-point shooting (55.7%) and fifth in three-point shooting (43.8%).
- This game hinges on which defense plays better. It is clear both teams can shoot the ball. The difference last time was Belmont’s ability to force turnovers and defend the two-point shot. Keep an eye on Middle Tennessee’s ability to pressure the dribble and not allow easy baskets on the interior. The better defense will win, but we should see a lot of really good shooting in this contest.
***** – 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