Set Your TiVo: 01.26.12Posted by bmulvihill on January 26th, 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 WAC match-ups headline tonight’s conference action. Let’s get to the games.
#14 Indiana at Wisconsin – 9:00PM EST on ESPN HD (****)
- Indiana recently ended a three-game losing last Sunday by beating Penn State for the second time this season. The Hoosiers have been a bit sloppy on offense in Big Ten play, turning the ball over more, getting more shots blocked, and dipping under the 50% mark from inside the arc. However, it’s the IU defense that has seen the biggest dip against Big Ten opponents. Tom Creen’s squad is not creating turnovers and is getting lit up from two-point land to the tune of 52.2%. While Wisconsin is far from an offensive juggernaut, keep a close eye on how the Hoosiers lock-up on defense. Also, pay close attention to Indiana’s ability to get to the line. If the Hoosiers do not have a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of at least 30%, there is a higher probability that they will lose the game.
- Wisconsin has suffered through its own three-game losing streak in the Big Ten this season. They have since put together a four-game win streak with strong defense. After a miserable start on offense, the Badgers have picked up their shooting in the last four games. Wisconsin can survive a poor shooting night because of strong defense. However, with a total eFG% under 50% and a two-point shooting percentage of 44.9% in conference, they have seen their fair share of dismal shooting displays that even stellar defense cannot overcome.
- There are three keys to this game that will determine the outcome. Indiana’s free throws, Wisconsin’s shooting, and Indiana’s ability to grab offensive boards. We have discussed the first two. If Indiana does not get to the line, they are much more susceptible to losing. Wisconsin does not have to shoot lights out to win, but if they are clanking too many, it’s over. The third key is very important though. Wisconsin has a tough time against teams that can grab their misses and pick-up second chance points. With Indiana’s size advantage in the this contest, pay close attention to the Hoosiers’ boarding on offense and subsequent trips to the line on hard fouls on the inside.
Nevada at New Mexico State – 9:00PM EST on WAC Sports Network (***)
- Nevada is riding a 13-game win streak into the biggest game of the season for the WAC conference. A win by the Wolfpack will give them a two-game cushion against the next best team in the league and a big leg up for the regular season conference championship. David Carter’s team is cleaning up on the offensive end in conference play. His guys are shooting 43% from three and 55% from two. They will be facing a tough NMSU defense that is only allowing teams to shoot 26.8% from downtown. While the Pack does not take a ton of shots from beyond the arc, keep an eye on how they handle the perimeter pressure from the Aggies.
- While the Wolfpack may have the best offense in the WAC, NMSU has the best defense. They are also one of the fastest teams in the country. The Aggies play at a break neck speed and average approximately 73 possessions per game. Compare that to Nevada’s 65 possessions per game. Watch to see if NMSU is able to dictate the tempo and play at their pace.
- This game should have excellent two-point shooting with both teams shooting approximately 55% from inside the arc in conference play. The deep ball does not figure to be a huge factor with NMSU only hitting 35% of its threes on the season and sporting such a stout three-point defense. However, if the Wolfpack can find open looks on the outside, they can certainly drain them. This game may come down to rebounding. If each team continues to shoot like they have been from inside the arc, there will not be a ton of misses, so boards will be even more important. The rebounding winner just may be the winner of the game.
Other Games to Watch:
South Dakota State at Oakland (7:00PM EST on Fox Sports Detroit) – South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters is battling Doug McDermott for the Jimmer Fredette Award this year for best white guy on a mid-major. Try to catch him play so you can know what to expect if he’s in the tourney.
**** – 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