Set Your TiVo: 12.20.11Posted by bmulvihill on December 20th, 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.
As college hoops finishes up the non-conference season, we get to watch two teams that have transcended their mid-major status, as well as upstart mid-majors battle against the nations blue bloods. With all the holiday shopping going on this time of year, it becomes even more important to Set Your TiVo’s. Let’s get to the action.
College of Charleston at #11 Louisville – 9:00PM EST on ESPNU HD (***)
- College of Charleston is off to a 9-1 and is poised to make a run through the Southern Conference. Louisville is a very difficult road test for the Cougars, but it could help them come NCAA Tournament time. Charleston is a very good two-point shooting team, hitting 54.6% from inside the arc. However, Bobby Cremins has his squad taking 40% of its shots from three. That’s a big number for a team that is only shooting 35.8% from downtown. Considering Antwaine Wiggins and Andrew Lawrence are hitting 61.3% and 55% from two, respectively, it will be important for both players to get good shots inside the arc. However, they run into a Louisville defense that is stout against the two-point shot. The Cougars are simply going to have to hit more threes to beat Louisville. Keep an eye on their makes and misses from deep. If they are not hitting early, the Cardinals could get too far out in front for Charleston to catch.
- With the exception of Ohio and Vanderbilt, Louisville has been mowing opponents down with stellar defense. They rank 4th in the country in defensive efficiency and have only allowed one opponent (Vanderbilt) to shoot over 50% eFG in 10 games. Charleston is one of the better two-point shooting teams in the country, so it will be a good test for the Cardinals. Expect Rick Pitino’s club to own the boards on both ends, as well as create a bunch of turnovers. Keep an eye on how Charleston handles the Louisville defensive pressure. If they look tentative when bringing the ball up court, this one could get out of hand.
- The game hinges on Charleston’s ability to handle the Louisville defense. The Cardinals will pressure the Cougar ball handlers and try to create baskets off of turnovers. If Charleston can move the ball past the pressure and hit open threes early, they can stay in the game. However, that is a very difficult task against one of the top five defenses in the country.
Butler at Gonzaga – 9:00PM EST on ESPN2 HD (****)
- Butler was able to upset Purdue in its last game because they limited their fouls. While Butler has a decent defense that can win games, they are simply bailing teams out by fouling and sending guys to the line at an incredible rate. Opposing offenses have a free throw rate of 51.8%. That’s good for 335th in the nation. Unfortunately for Butler fans, only five teams have a higher free-throw rate than the Gonzaga offense. Brad Stevens’ squad currently does not have the offense to make-up for all the freebies opposing offenses are getting. Keep a close eye on the Butler foul situation, as it is a huge factor in the game.
- The Gonzaga offense relies heavily on second chance points. While the team’s eFG% is a shade under 51%, they are one of the stronger offensive rebounding teams in the country. Keep an eye on the match-up between 7’0” Gonzaga center Robert Sacre and 6’11” Butler center Andrew Smith. It should be one of the better big man battles of the season and will certainly affect the outcome of the game. Sacre is one of the better offensive rebounders in the country. The question is whether Smith can defend him without fouling, as well as keep him off the glass.
- The game hinges on Butler’s ability to defend without fouling. It’s a tall task for this team to head into Spokane and win regardless, but if they continue to give away free points, they have no shot. If Smith is in the game late, Butler has done a good job on defense and can win. However, Sacre and Elias Harris will make this incredibly difficult with their physical play and length.
***** – 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