Set Your TiVo: 02.09.12Posted by bmulvihill on February 9th, 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.
The conference showdowns have been spectacular thus far. We have learned how dominant Kentucky is, that Kansas isn’t ready to give up the Big 12 crown yet, and that Duke-UNC is amazing theater nearly every time. Tonight, the WCC take center stage as the old guard and the upstart do battle out west.
#11 St. Mary’s at #24 Gonzaga – 11:00 PM EST on ESPN2 HD (****)
- St. Mary’s has won 12 games in a row and is 3-0 against their biggest conference threats, BYU and Gonzaga. A win on the road against Gonzaga will give the Gaels a three-game lead in the West Coast Conference and all but wrap-up the regular season conference crown. In their first go around with the Zags in Moraga, St. Mary’s shot 61.7% from two-point land. Hitting a high percentage of two-point shots has been the proven method to beat Gonzaga. The Gaels were led by Matthew Dellavedova in their win against the Bulldogs earlier this season. Dellavedova had 26 points on 10-16 shooting. Look for a steady does of Dellavedova from both outside and inside, along with some assistance from Brad Waldow, who dropped 17 on Gonzaga in the first game. Dellavedova will be the barometer for St. Mary’s. If he’s knocking down good looks early, Gonzaga will have a tough time beating the Gaels.
- Gonzaga needs their defense and their bigs to step-up in this game if they want a shot at another WCC crown. While Elias Harris picked-up 17 points in the previous match-up, Robert Sacre and Sam Dower were a combined 2-11 from the field. These two players cannot disappear from games if the Zags want to win. Watch their play on offense closely. Sacre has to demand the ball in the post and take advantage of his size.
- The game hinges on Gonzaga’s defense. They simply cannot allow St. Mary’s to hit such a high percentage of two-point shots. While it is important for them to continue to defend the three, too many made shots from inside the arc kill the Zags. Additionally, they must keep the Gaels off the glass on offense. With a significant size advantage in the starting line-up, this should not be an issue but is certainly worth watching. Finally, Gonzaga needs to create turnovers. If Dellavedova is not being pressured enough, he will do exactly what he did in the last game.
Other Games to Watch:
#23 Wisconsin at Minnesota (7:00 PM EST on ESPN HD): Wisconsin heads into back to back road games as the Big Ten season heads down the stretch. The jury is till out on the Badgers. A couple of road wins may bring all the doubters back.
Virginia Tech at Miami (9:00 PM EST on ESPN2 HD): Miami is in a solid position in the ACC with the second half of the schedule to come. A win tonight keeps them one game back. Keep an eye on the Hurricanes as we move towards March.
***** – 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