Set Your TiVo: 01.03.12Posted by bmulvihill on January 3rd, 2012
Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
Big Ten and Big East battles highlight Tuesday night’s action. Let’s take a look at what you should keep an eye on:
#12 Michigan State at #18 Wisconsin – 7:00PM EST on ESPN2 HD (****)
- Michigan State has rattled off 13 consecutive wins since losing its first two games against North Carolina and Duke. The Spartans are playing some of the strongest defense in the country. Tom Izzo’s teams are typically strong on the boards and this season is no exception. MSU ranks 17th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage. Rebounding should prove to be a crucial element in the outcome of this game, as Wisconsin is one of the country’s top defensive rebounding teams. Since the Badgers play such spectacular field goal defense, the Spartans are going to have to crash the offensive glass to have a chance to win on the road. Also, pay close attention to how often Sparty gets to the line and how often they put the Badgers on the line. Those stats have been key to MSU’s wins and losses. Fortunately for Spartan fans, Wisconsin is 315th in the country in free throw rate.
- The Badgers are coming off a bizarre home loss to Iowa where they shot 3-28 from three-point land. However, when you look back at Wisconsin’s two other losses against Marquette and North Carolina, they shot poorly from downtown in those games as well. The Badgers were 5-19 against Marquette and 8-28 against UNC. Neither of those teams were particularly good at defending the three. For a team that takes almost 40% of its shots from three and hits 38.4% of them, the deep ball is clearly a driver of the Badgers’ offensive efficiency. MSU has one of the better three-point defenses in the country, allowing only 29.9% of deep balls to go down. Keep a close eye on the three-point percentage of Wisconsin.
- This should be a slow, half-court, defensive battle. The game will hinge on MSU’s ability to defend the three and still manage the defensive boards. The Badgers will need to establish their inside game in order to open up the perimeter. They have the defense to beat anyone in the country, however, if the three ball is not going down, their offense has a tough time winning games for them.
#7 Connecticut at Seton Hall – 7:00PM EST on Big East Network HD (****)
- UConn has had an easy road thus far, so it is still difficult to pinpoint how good they are. They have been tested a few times but for the most part, they’ve had blowout wins against inferior teams. Seton Hall provides a conference road test that will give us a very good indication of how good UConn really is. Keep a close eye on how the Connecticut interior of Andre Drummond, Alex Oriakhi, and Tyler Olander handles Seton Hall’s Herb Pope (18.6 PPG/10.9 RPG). Pope is the best interior player UConn has faced. Additionally, it will be very interesting to see how those three players take advantage of their size on offense to exploit Seton Hall’s poor two-point defense. The Pirates are allowing teams to shoot 49.7% from inside the arc.
- Seton Hall has been a nice surprise so far this season. While they got torched by Syracuse last week at the Carrier Dome, they bounced back with a nice win at home against West Virginia. The Pirates need more than Herb Pope, however. In the win against WVU, SHU guards Jordan Theodore and Fuquan Edwin scored 18 and 19 points respectively to go along with Pope’s 13. Both players need to perform at the same level, if they want to beat the Huskies. Also, keep an eye on Seton Hall’s ability to create turnovers. Both of their losses came against Syracuse and Northwestern — two teams that do not turn the ball over. UConn, however, turns the ball over on 20.9% of its possessions. The Pirates must take advantage of UConn’s mishaps in order to win this game.
- We are looking at another slow, half-court game. However, the inside battle should prove to be very exciting. The game hinges on Seton Hall’s ability to get scoring from Theodore and Edwin. It is safe to say that the UConn interior will keep Pope very busy all night. Theodore and Edwin need to take the pressure off of their big man. Also, both teams are terrible at free throws. Each is shooting in the mid-60 percent range for the season. A couple more made free throws by one team could be the difference in this one.
**** – 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