Set Your TiVo: 02.21.12Posted by bmulvihill on February 21st, 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.
Lots of important conference games on the docket this evening. As we move into the final two weeks of the regular season in college hoops, there are several conference titles up for grabs. It should be a fantastic closing to the season before we head into the postseason.
Kansas State at #3 Missouri – 7:00PM EST on ESPN2 (****)
- Along with Texas, Kansas State sits squarely on the bubble in the Big 12. A road win at Missouri would do wonders for their tourney chances. Frank Martin’s team is coming off a nice win against Baylor and can feel some comfort in the fact they have beaten the Tigers once already this season. They need to take advantage of their size on the offensive glass as they in did the previous match-up with Mizzou. Additionally, keep a close eye on Kansas State’s ability to get to the free throw line as the Wildcats rely heavily on free throws. Also, watch Rodney McGruder’s shooting from deep. Missouri is allowing teams to shoot 39.7% from three in conference play. McGruder is Kansas State’s best three-point shooter and can have a huge impact in a close game.
- Missouri is on a collision course with Kansas next Saturday in Lawrence. In what could be the last regular season “Boarder Wars”, the game looms large for the Tigers. In most cases, this would be a classic trap game. However, with a loss earlier in the season to Kansas State, don’t expect Missouri to look past the Wildcats. The Tigers are undefeated at home, have won seven in a row, and operate the most efficient offense in the entire country. They look ready for a deep run in the tourney. Keep a close eye on how Ricardo Ratliffe plays against the Kansas State size. He had zero impact in the last game and needs a better showing for Missouri to win tonight.
- This game comes down to defense. Kansas State held the Tigers to their worst shooting performance of the season in their previous match-up. If they can do the same in this one, they have a chance to pull the big upset. If Missouri can box out on the defensive end and create turnovers, they can avenge their previous loss to the Wildcats.
#12 Michigan at Northwestern – 8:00PM EST on BTN (****)
- Michigan is one game back in the Big Ten and has the easiest remaining schedule of the top three teams in the conference. However, the Wolverines play 3 of the last 4 on the road where they are 2-6 on the season. Facing a Northwestern team that took them to overtime in their previous matchup will be no easy win on the road. Michigan had an eFG on 38.6% in the previous match-up thanks to shooting 7 for 30 from downtown. John Beilein’s squad was able to come away with the win however by dominating the offensive boards and limiting turnovers. You don’t hear dominating and offensive boards in the same sentence too often in reference to the Wolverines. Watch closely to see if they can do it again. Their shooting will have to improve from the previous game, however.
- John Shurna and Drew Crawford outdueled Trey Burke and Tim Hardway, Jr. in the first matchup as Shurna and Crawford combined for 41 points. Northwestern outshot the Wolverines, but turned the ball over too often and let the Wolverines have too many second chance points. Keep an eye on Shurna and Crawford in this one as well. Northwestern will need their three-point shooting to knock off the Wolverines.
- Michigan cannot fall in love with the three-point shot in this game. The outcome hinges on Burke’s ability to create open shots for his teammates just like he has been doing in recent games. If Michigan can continue to play strong defense and take smart shots, they will win the game.
Other Games to Watch:
- Illinois at #8 Ohio State (7:00PM EST on ESPN): Ohio State needs to bounce back after their loss at Michigan this weekend to keep pace in the Big Ten. Meyers Leonard needs to have the game of his career for Illinois to have any chance.
- #6 North Carolina at North Carolina State (8:00PM EST on ACC Network): NC State was in the thick of the ACC race a week ago, but a blown 20-point lead and loss to Duke and a home loss to FSU has them in the second tier of ACC squads. Clearly a dangerous team, though, that UNC cannot afford to lose to in a tight battle at the top of the ACC.
- #1 Kentucky at Mississippi State (9:00PM EST on ESPN): At this point, we are just watching Kentucky to see if they can go undefeated in the SEC. A remarkable accomplishment for such a young team. Mississippi State has lost three in a row and are headed in the wrong direction.
***** – 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