Set Your Tivo: 01.06 – 01.08Posted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2012
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.
There are plenty of games to watch over the next few days but these five from the Big East, Big 12 and Big Ten are the best of the bunch:
#9 Georgetown @ West Virginia – 12:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN FullCourt/ESPN3.com (***)
- Now 13-1 with one of the better resumes in the nation, Georgetown seems to be a legitimate Big East title contender despite some question marks on its roster. The Hoyas have scored two big road wins already, at Alabama and Louisville, and this would be another one in the always tough WVU Coliseum. Jason Clark scored 26 points in the Hoyas’ 17-point comeback against Marquette on Wednesday night and the senior guard will look to lead his team on the road yet again. Georgetown will have to win this game with inside play and defense. The Hoyas shoot a high percentage inside the arc and they’ll be going up against a WVU defense that’s ranked #87 in the same area of the floor. With Clark, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims able to score inside, Georgetown has a clear edge in that department.
- Truck Bryant had 29 points in Wednesday’s win at Rutgers to move WVU to 2-1 in Big East play. Along with his freshmen guard teammates, Bryant will have to keep the basketball away from a Georgetown defense that ranks #15 in efficiency. The Mountaineers won’t get many easy looks so they can’t be turning the ball over against the Hoyas. WVU averages 15 turnovers per game. The Mountaineers do make 53.2% of their field goals inside the arc but they’ll be challenged by the stout Georgetown defense. Kevin Jones and Deniz Kilicli have to be major factors in the paint but Jones also has to be able to stretch his game to mid-range and beyond in order to open up some looks inside. In addition, West Virginia has to do a terrific job on the offensive boards. It’s not likely that the Mountaineers will be draining a high percentage of their deep shots so they must rebound aggressively and get second chance buckets.
- West Virginia has won the last four games between these teams and both shot lights out earlier this week against Rutgers (WVU) and Marquette (GT). The Hoyas, despite going only 13-23 from the charity stripe on Wednesday, have a big edge at the foul line should this game come down to the wire, which it very well could. Georgetown is the better team but West Virginia can win with better defense and Bryant staying hot. We’d be surprised if this game isn’t close.
#6 Missouri @ #21 Kansas State – 1:30 PM EST Saturday on ESPN FullCourt/ESPN3.com (****)
- Missouri’s first big test has arrived. The Tigers have been phenomenal so far this season but they will face a stiff challenge in Manhattan from an angry Kansas State team coming off a blowout loss to Kansas. Mizzou was 1-7 on the road last season in Big 12 play and that has to be in the back of the players’ minds as they head into this contest. Frank Haith’s four guard lineup is ranked second in offensive efficiency and shot 59.3% from the floor in an evisceration of Oklahoma earlier this week. Missouri is top 10 in three-point, two-point and free throw percentage on the strength of Kim English’s resurgence, Marcus Denmon, Michael Dixon and company. This is arguably the best back court in college basketball but it needs to have poise playing on the road in front of what will be a raucous crowd at the Octagon of Doom.
- Frank Martin was really upset with his team’s effort on the boards against Kansas as the Wildcats were out-rebounded 48-24 by their in-state rivals. Against Missouri, Kansas State has to rebound and defend or it doesn’t stand much of a chance. We think the Wildcats will respond to Martin and give it their all on Saturday because it’s hard not to see Martin getting this team up and ready for this important home game. Kansas State has to score inside, rebound and limit turnovers against Missouri’s pressure defense. The good news is K-State has a tough defense rated seventh in eFG% against. The Wildcats are weaker on the defensive glass, however, but they can’t afford to allow such a good shooting team like Missouri to get second chances. Offensively, Rodney McGruder and Jamar Samuels will do the bulk of the scoring. If McGruder can connect from deep, Kansas State can pull the upset.
- Kansas State is deeper than Missouri but its offensive challenges may be too difficult to overcome, even at home. Kansas State shot 31.6% against Kansas and needs to have a reliable third scorer in order to win this game. Thomas Gipson should be that guy but he didn’t score in only 16 minutes of action against the Wildcats. We’ll give the Wildcats a good chance because of home court and Missouri needing to prove itself on the road but we have a feeling the Tigers just might get this one.
#13 Kansas @ Oklahoma – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPNU (***)
- As mentioned in the Missouri/K-State preview, Kansas was +24 on the glass in its last game against Kansas State. On paper this looks like an easy game for the Jayhawks but Oklahoma has been a pleasant surprise overall despite the 87-49 beat down it took at Missouri. Kansas is highly efficient on both ends, especially defense. If it weren’t for turnovers, KU would likely rank among the nation’s top-10 offenses. Tyshawn Taylor had eight turnovers against K-State but he can’t afford to do that on the road against a team looking to grab a quality win. Kansas has the best player on the floor in Thomas Robinson and Bill Self’s offensive strategy should be to feed him early and often. Oklahoma has to make Kansas beat them from the outside but if the Jayhawk big man can stay out of foul trouble and assert himself inside, KU shouldn’t have many difficulties in this game.
- Lon Kruger is a great coach but this is a really tough match-up for his team. Oklahoma is terrific on the offensive boards (#6) and must crash the boards in hopes of getting second chances against Robinson and Kansas in the paint. Andrew Fitzgerald and Steven Pledger (48.6% from deep) have to bring their “A” games if the Sooners hope to upset the Jayhawks. Oklahoma has to do two things it doesn’t usually do well in order to win. One, be aggressive inside by getting to the line and two, finishing in the paint. OU doesn’t do a good job in either area but it is going to have to on Saturday. Defensively, the Sooners have to make Kansas beat them from deep. Elijah Johnson shoots 30.9% from beyond the arc and it would be wise for Oklahoma to take its chances with Kansas’ Johnson shooting from deep. Oklahoma should play zone and pack it in on Robinson. If they can draw some early fouls and/or contain him, OU will be in the game. Easier said than done, of course.
- This is Kansas’ second true road game but the Jayhawks are playing really well and have a significant talent edge. Oklahoma has to get Robinson in foul trouble in order to have a chance but the Sooners also need a hot shooting night on their part. It would say a lot about this Oklahoma program to respond with a good game against Kansas after what happened at Missouri but the Jayhawks seem to have too much. However, they don’t play the games on paper for a reason.
#17 Marquette @ #1 Syracuse – 4:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN FullCourt/ESPN3.com (****)
- Syracuse placed six players in double figures while shooting 61.9% as a team in Wednesday’s win at Providence and you know Jim Boeheim’s team is licking their chops with a Marquette team coming in that just surrendered 63% shooting to Georgetown. The Orange have so many talented weapons but should look to go inside early and often against a Marquette team playing without the injured Chris Otule. Syracuse has a huge advantage in the paint both offensively and defensively. The Orange shouldn’t settle for threes in front of the home crowd, instead they should be looking to dominate the boards and be +20 in the paint against the smaller Golden Eagles.
- For Marquette to win, two things need to happen. First, it needs to guard better than it has all season long. If the Golden Eagles don’t bring it defensively, they’ll get run out of the Dome by a deeper and more talented Orange team. Second, MU has to make jump shots. Darius Johnson-Odom, Todd Mayo and Jae Crowder must make three balls over the Syracuse zone because Buzz Williams’ team simply won’t be able to score easily in the paint unless they draw fouls and get to the line. Junior Cadougan has to do a terrific job with ball handling duties because Syracuse is lethal in transition. Marquette’s faster pace may actually hurt it, especially if MU is turning the ball over. Instead, Marquette has to be able to guard in a half court setting and cut off the Syracuse fast break game. We’re not sure Marquette can guard effectively for 25 or 30 seconds a possession against a team like Syracuse.
- From Dion Waiters to Kris Joseph and Brandon Triche, Syracuse has too much for Marquette to handle. MU is a tough basketball team but it appears to be an awful match-up for the Golden Eagles. They need a big day on the offensive glass, their best defensive performance and their threes to fall in order to steal this road win. Vander Blue, a non-factor against Georgetown, must step up and be Marquette’s fourth scorer. If not, Syracuse’s scoring depth will take over the game.
#18 Wisconsin @ #15 Michigan – 1:30 PM EST Sunday on CBS (****)
- Coming off two consecutive home losses to Iowa and Michigan State, this is a huge game for Wisconsin. The Badgers struggled offensively in both games but it was their defense that really let them down against Iowa. The good news? Jordan Taylor seemed to break out of his slump with a 28-point performance against the Spartans on Tuesday. The bad news? Shots aren’t falling for Ben Brust, Jared Berggren (10-30 FG in the last two games), Ryan Evans or anyone else for that matter. Wisconsin and Michigan are two of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in America so expect this one to come down to a battle on the arc.
- The Wolverines showed a lot of fight in Thursday night’s loss at Indiana but couldn’t defend well at all. Indiana shot 55% against Michigan so the defense must get better for Michigan to be able to win against Wisconsin. Of course if the Badgers keep missing shots, that won’t matter as much. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 19 points against the Hoosiers but that was on 7-19 FG. In fact, Hardaway is just 9-36 (25%) from the field over his last two games. Getting him out of that shooting slump is paramount but it won’t be easy against Wisconsin’s defense. Michigan has to get others involved whether that is Zack Novak and Trey Burke outside or Jordan Morgan inside. Michigan is the best two-point shooting team in the nation but it takes so many threes, 23.7 per game, that Morgan is often forgotten about in the paint.
- With a three-point defense allowing only 24.9% shooting, Wisconsin has a strong edge on the defensive side of the ball. Michigan shoots a ton of threes but Badger opponents get only 17.5% of their total points from deep. By contrast, Michigan is allowing opponents to shoot 34.6% from long range. This game really comes down to Wisconsin’s performance. Michigan should be solid at home but will the Badgers make shots and defend like they usually do? If so, Wisconsin could easily win this game on the road.
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