Set Your TiVo: 1.10.12Posted by bmulvihill on January 10th, 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.
Let’s take a look at two big games tonight in the Big 12 and the Missouri Valley.
#5 Baylor at #18 Kansas State – 8:00PM EST on FSN Regional (****)
- In order to stay undefeated, Baylor has to go on the road to Manhattan, Kansas and beat a very tough Kansas State team. The Bears’ defense continues to be one of the best in the nation, holding teams to 42% eFG. It’s almost impossible to make a two-point shot against their long, athletic front court. Only BYU and West Virginia have been able to shoot over 50% eFG against Scott Drew’s team. Baylor is very difficult to beat because their defense and offensive rebounding enable them to withstand a poor shooting night and still win, much like their game against Mississippi State where they shot an eFG of 39%. One weakness for the Bears is their turnover rate. Point guard Pierre Jackson turns the ball over at a rate 31.1%. While it would appear that Jackson’s turnovers would be a liability, it seems Baylor is able to tighten things up in close games. In games against their two toughest opponents, West Virginia and BYU, the Bears turned the ball over on only 16.7% and 17.1% of their possessions, respectively.
- Kansas State aims to take down an undefeated team for the second consecutive game. They knocked off a previously unbeaten Missouri team on Saturday, 75-59. Kansas State held the nation’s #2 most effective offense to an eFG of 39.8%. In its previous 14 games, the Tigers had shot a 58.4% eFG. The K-State defense will match the Baylor defense step for step. A big question is whether or not Frank Martin’s team can hit the offensive glass the same way they have all season against a very tall Baylor squad. Kansas State ranks #8 in offensive rebounding percentage and it is a key component to their offensive efficiency. Keep an eye on their performance on the glass all night.
- To beat Baylor, a team has to do three things – keep the Bears eFG low, shoot a high eFG themselves, and grab more offensive boards than the Bears. No one has done it yet. Clearly Kansas State can defend both the two-point and three-point shots, as evident in their performance against Mizzou. They rank #8 in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, so they have the advantage there as well. The remaining question is their ability to hit shots (the game will hinge on K-State’s ability to simply hit shots). If not, will two out of three be enough? Either way, it’ll be an absolute slugfest in Manhattan tonight.
Northern Iowa at #23 Creighton – 9:00PM EST on ESPN3 (****)
- Northern Iowa’s next four games will tell us a lot about them. They face the cream of the crop in the Missouri Valley Conference in Creighton, Missouri State, and Wichita State in the next eight days. UNI’s offense currently relies heavily on the three-point shot (40% of their field goal attempts are from beyond the arc). Unfortunately, the team is shooting under 50% from two-point range and ranks #321 in the nation in offensive rebounding (they get almost no second-chance opportunities). Interestingly enough, UNI ranks in the top 20 in defensive rebounding percentage. There are not too many teams with such a big difference in their offensive and defensive rebounding numbers.
- Creighton is the top shooting team in the country. They have an eFG of 59%. That number is buoyed by guard Doug McDermott’s incredible shooting. McDermott is hitting 64.7% from two. The Blue Jays have been impressive thus far despite a struggling defense. Coach Greg McDermott’s squad allows teams to shoot 35% from three. This could prove to be a problem against a team that relies heavily on the three-point shot like Northern Iowa does. Keep a close eye the Creighton perimeter defense.
- This game probably won’t be a defensive masterpiece, but the team that ends up playing better defense will probably win. Specifically, if Creighton cannot defend UNI from beyond the arc. More than likely though, the defensive onus will fall mostly on UNI and their ability to stop McDermott and company. UNI does not want to get into a shootout with the Blue Jays, because that is a battle they will lose.
**** – 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