Set Your TiVo: 01.19.12Posted by bmulvihill on January 19th, 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.
More great conference action tonight as one team looks to prevent history from repeating and repeating and repeating.
Vanderbilt at Alabama – 7:00PM EST on ESPN2 HD (****)
- Vanderbilt is a different team with Festus Ezeli on the court. The Commodores are 5-3 without Ezeli and 8-1 with him. While the schedule was also more difficult when he was injured, his impact on both the offense and defense is undeniable. Keep a close eye on how he manages the interior against Alabama’s JaMychal Green. Green lit up the Commodores for 23 points last year in a losing effort. Vanderbilt has certainly torn through its first three SEC opponents this year, shooting 47% from three and almost 55% from two. Alabama and its top-five defense will present very difficult obstacle for Kevin Stallings’ team particularly on the Crimson Tide’s home court. A key factor in this game will be Vanderbilt’s ability to get second chance points on missed shots. Alabama’s field goal defense is so strong, especially against the three, that the Commodores can easily go one and done and shoot themselves out of this game.
- Alabama is only allowing teams to shoot 25.7% from three-point land. With Vanderbilt’s bread and butter being the long ball, this sets up for very interesting situation on the perimeter when Alabama is on defense. Give the edge to Alabama as they have only allowed two opponents to shoot over 50% eFG so far this season. The Commodores shoot 42% of their field goal attempts from downtown. Look to see how Vanderbilt adjusts their offense against such tough perimeter defense.
- This game sets up as another offense versus defense match-up. However, the key may actually be on the offensive boards. Neither team is particularly fantastic on the defensive glass and offensive rebounding is a key factor in the offensive efficiency of both teams. The team with more second chance points should win this game.
#7 North Carolina at Virginia Tech – 9:00PM EST on ESPN HD (****)
- North Carolina is coming off a historic loss to Florida State on Saturday. The Tar Heels put up their worst shooting effort of the season as well as giving up their highest eFG% of the season. Look for the Heels to bounce back on the road against a struggling Virginia Tech team. UNC has an athletic front line that will get a test from a Hokie front line with some size. However, look for North Carolina to dominate the offensive glass. Virginia Tech is a terrible defensive rebounding team and will not be able to overcome the second chance points.
- Seth Greenberg is in serious danger of repeating history and not making the NCAA tourney again. The Hokies have zero quality wins. With the exception of two wins against Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech has not beaten any major conference opponents. They have lost to Syracuse, Minnesota, and Kansas State. And to top things off, they have started ACC play with three consecutive losses. It’s safe to say that Virginia Tech is more desperate for a big win than any other team in the country. The Hokies have played solid defense thus far. They only allow teams to shoot 26.2% from downtown. Unfortunately for Hokie fans, the long ball is not important to the UNC offense. It look like Greenberg’s team must figure out a way to get to the line if they are going to get their first conference win of the season. Again, not good news for the Hokie faithful. UNC ranks #1 in defensive free throw rate. That means they just don’t foul.
- There isn’t one stat that says Virginia Tech has a chance to win this game. Odds makers have it closer than you would think at 6.5 because the Hokies are at home. Virginia Tech shoots the ball very poorly, they give up second chance opportunities, and while their defense is good, it’s almost impossible for them to win if they give up an eFG% of over 50%. That’s tough with a front line like UNC. Look for the Tar Heels to bounce back from their loss with an ACC road win.
**** – 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