Set Your TiVo: 02.20.12Posted by Brian Otskey on February 20th, 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.
One bubble team looks to stop the bleeding just by getting any kind of win while another is in search of the quality win that could put it in the NCAA Tournament. Rankings are subject to change with a new RTC Top 25 coming out today.
Connecticut @ Villanova – 7:00 PM EST on ESPN (***)
- It is not a good time to be a Connecticut fan. Jim Calhoun is out, the team is average, the chemistry is bad, and the program is facing an NCAA Tournament ban next season. Plus the women’s team lost for the first time in 99 games at home on Saturday! Shabazz Napier called out his teammates after Saturday’s loss to Marquette, UConn’s seventh in nine games. This team’s chemistry is as sour as an expired milk carton and it will take a major turnaround for the Huskies to pull out of this tailspin. To beat Villanova, Connecticut must use its terrific interior defense to make the Wildcats take deep shots. Villanova is not a good three-point shooting team and is highly inefficient overall on the offensive end. Starters Maalik Wayns and James Bell have been injured and it’s not known if they will play. Wayns is listed as questionable while Bell is doubtful. If neither plays, there is no excuse for Connecticut not to win this game. As long as the Huskies can shut down JayVaughn Pinkston and contain Dominic Cheek, they shouldwin. Of course with a team in a situation such as UConn’s, nothing is assured.
- Villanova blew a 20-point lead and lost in overtime to Notre Dame on Saturday night. The Wildcats played without Wayns and Bell and their first half performance should be a warning shot for UConn. The Wildcats dominated Notre Dame in the first half before folding late. If Wayns can’t go, it will be up to Pinkston and Cheek to do most of the scoring. Pinkston has improved nicely as the year has gone on and Jay Wright isn’t giving up on his team. The Wildcats put a scare into Marquette and Notre Dame while picking up a handful of wins along the way. If Cheek is hitting from the outside, that’ll open things up for Pinkston inside. Pinkston can also stretch the defense and could be able to pull Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi away from the rim where they are vulnerable. Connecticut doesn’t defend the triple well but Villanova doesn’t exactly shoot it well either. If the Wildcats are to win, they’re going to have to make threes.
- This is about as unpredictable of a game as we have had all year. Connecticut is the better team, but it certainly isn’t playing like it in 2012. The wildcard in this game is Wayns. If he can give it a go, Villanova will have a very good chance to win. If not, Pinkston, Cheek and company will have to duplicate the effort they put forth in the first half of the Notre Dame game and sustain it for 40 minutes. Picking the winner of this game is anyone’s guess.
#11 Baylor @ Texas – 9:00 PM EST on ESPN (****)
- After losing at home to Kansas State on Saturday, Baylor is just 5-5 since opening the season with a 17-0 record. The Bears have a defense ranked in the top 30 nationally, but a closer inspection reveals a team ranked sixth out of 10 Big 12 teams in league games. The Bears don’t rebound with authority, wasting all the height Scott Drew has assembled in his front court. While Perry Jones III is struggling, one area where Baylor can take advantage of Texas is the three-point line. With Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson lurking on the perimeter, Baylor should be able to make triples against a Texas defense surrendering 37.6% in conference play. The Bears also have a big edge inside, but they have been reluctant pound the ball inside. Jones III needs to assert himself and become an alpha dog, but that just doesn’t seem to be his personality. It’s too bad because that could really help on the road against Texas.
- At 17-10 (7-7), Texas is squarely on the bubble. Texas lacks a quality win and with a sure loss coming up at Kansas on March 3 this is pretty much a must-win game for the Longhorns. Rick Barnes’ team has won four of five but is coming off a deflating loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday. J’Covan Brown and Myck Kabango have to play good games for the Longhorns to win this one. Texas isn’t a great shooting team but those two players help to run a fairly efficient offense and can both knock down a triple. The Longhorns hit the offensive glass hard and get to the free throw line with ease where Brown is an 85.3% shooter. Texas has to get the Baylor big men in foul trouble so they can get to the foul line and score, but also so it opens up the drive and kick game to an open shooter. Texas doesn’t have a strong interior presence, but Clint Chapman could be an important player on the defensive end against Baylor’s size.
- This should be a very close, competitive game just like the first matchup in Waco last month. Texas forced 18 turnovers in that game to keep it close, something the Longhorns likely have to do again. Texas is desperate for a big time win and there is no excuse for the Longhorns to come out flat at home. Baylor is ripe for the taking with the way they have played of late but it’s still going to require a strong effort from a Texas team that isn’t as talented as its opponent. Both of these teams do a great job on the offensive glass but that often comes down to who wants it more. In a game that’s much more important to the Longhorns than the Bears, you’d have to favor Texas at home.
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