Set Your TiVo: 12.19.11Posted by Brian Otskey on December 19th, 2011
Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
It’s a slow Monday night but keep your eye on what happens in these two games, even though neither will be on the tube.
Belmont at Marshall – 7:00 PM EST no TV (***)
- For Tom Herrion, keeping control of the basketball has to be at the top of his game plan tonight. Marshall has a poor turnover margin, mostly due to its 15 turnovers per game average. It won’t be easy against Belmont either, a team that thrives off of giveaways and easy baskets. Offensively, Marshall has an edge in the paint with Dennis Tinnon (10/10) and Robert Goff. The Thundering Herd averages 42 RPG and is #2 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. If Marshall’s guards, including top two scorers DeAndre Kane and Damier Pitts play well and can handle the ball, this team has to be favored at home.
- With four losses on its resume already, Belmont has pretty much wrecked any chance it had of an at-large NCAA bid should it need one. Of course, the Bruins could win the Atlantic Sun tournament and make it anyway. As we mentioned, rebounding is a strength for Marshall and therefore a concern for Belmont. Rick Byrd’s team needs to create turnovers to help offset what should be a significant disadvantage on the glass. Belmont is #16 in offensive efficiency and it will need a quality game out of guards Kerron Johnson and Drew Hanlen. Hanlen is the team’s best three point shooter at 42.6%. Defensively, the Bruins do not have a good free throw rate. Luckily for them in this game, Marshall is one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country.
- Belmont is 1-4 on the road so you’d think it is due for a win away from home. Both teams shoot a lot of three pointers but the Bruins are much more efficient. Marshall shoots only 26.4% from deep but gets a lot of offensive rebounds, leading to a two point FG% of 52.6%. An astounding 43.7% of Belmont’s field goal attempts are triples so you can bet those will have to be falling in order for the Bruins to win this one on the road. Expect a close game throughout with Marshall being the ever so slight favorite.
Creighton at Tulsa – 9:00 PM EST no TV (**)
- Creighton is one of the best offensive teams in the nation, averaging 86 PPG on an incredible 50.8% shooting overall. The Bluejay offense ranks #11 in efficiency, mostly due to uber-efficient sophomore forward Doug McDermott. The coach’s son averages 24.1 PPG and 8.8 boards and is second in the nation in scoring. If Creighton can get comfortable on the road, it should have no problem running its offense. The question for the Bluejays will be defense as they allow 68.6 PPG. While Tulsa averages only 65.9 PPG, defense can be an issue on the road in front of an upset-minded crowd. Creighton’s offense is set up by guards Antoine Young and Grant Gibbs with McDermott and Greg Echenique doing the brunt of the work in the scoring column and on the glass. Creighton assists on 68.7% of its made field goals due to the skill and vision of Young and Gibbs and McDermott’s ability to finish. McDermott is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, but Echenique adds strength and size to the front court. Against a tall Tulsa front line, Echenique has to play well and take some of the scoring pressure off McDermott.
- Defensively, Creighton is vulnerable to the three-pointer. That’s where Tulsa’s Scottie Haralson comes in. Haralson launches an average of 8.2 threes every game and hits 42.2% of the time. Led by Haralson, Tulsa shoots 37% from beyond the arc as a team. Jordan Clarkson averages 15.4 PPG for the Golden Hurricane and they will need him to score more than that against the high-flying Bluejays. Tulsa’s turnover margin is poor so they must control the ball and play terrific defense against the high octane Creighton offense. Tulsa turns the ball over 15 times per game but makes up for that with the #5 defensive rebounding percentage in the land. Interior defense is Tulsa’s strength, but it is going to have to stop Creighton’s three-point shooters McDermott, Jahenns Manigat, and Ethan Wragge if they hope to pull the upset.
- Creighton is only a three-point favorite against a Tulsa team that hasn’t performed up to expectations. The Golden Hurricane lost four straight games before getting back on the winning track with an overtime victory over Texas-Arlington this past Saturday. Doug Wojcik should have his guys ready to go for this one, but the difference in talent and production is clearly evident. Tulsa needs a superb defensive effort in order to win, even on its home floor. Tulsa is 0-2 against the MVC thus far and, despite being only a three point underdog, it’s hard not to see them dropping to 0-3.
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