Set Your TiVo: 02.23.12Posted by bmulvihill on February 23rd, 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.
#8 Duke at #17 Florida State – 7:00PM EST on ESPN (****)
- Duke lost to FSU on their home court at the buzzer the last time these two played. Going on the road to exact revenge and keep pace with North Carolina for the ACC lead looms large for the Blue Devils. There are two key areas that Duke needs to focus on in order to beat the Seminoles – three-point defense and getting to the free throw line. While the Blue Devils have the top three-point defense in the ACC, they let the Seminoles hit 50% from downtown in the first game. It’s a key area of focus because in 3 of the 4 Duke losses, they have allowed an eFG of over 60%. Additionally, keep a close eye on their ability to get to the line. When Duke does not get to the line frequently they are vulnerable. Their three worst free throw rate performances of the season are all losses.
- Florida State was able to beat Duke in their previous match-up with its strongest shooting effort of the season. For a team that is known for its defense, FSU is the best shooting team in the ACC. Their three-point shooting has gotten much better in conference play to give their eFG a big boost. Only Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Clemson have been able to hold the Seminoles under 50% eFG in a single game. They must watch the turnovers though as they are turning the ball over at a rate of 22.3% in ACC play.
- This game will come down to free throws and three-point defense. Both teams rely on free throws to win ball games. When taken away with good defense and no fouls, they lose. With so many of Dukes shots coming from beyond the three-point line (40%) and FSU’s recent success from downtown, the team who defends the three better should win.
Brigham Young at #20 Gonzaga – 11:00PM EST on ESPN2 (****)
- In the pre-game analysis of their first match-up this season, we said that BYU needed to shoot 55% from two and Noah Hartsock and Matt Carlino needed to have big games in order for the Cougars to win. BYU shot 54%, Hartsock went for 24 points and 14 boards, Carlino went for 18 points, 5 assists, and 3 boards, and BYU won. Why change a good thing? If BYU can get up and down the court and shoot the way they did last game, they will win. The key will be how they handle the game on the road.
- Gonzaga’s loss to San Francisco in their last game was crushing. It makes tonight’s game against BYU an absolute must win. Turnovers have been killing the Zags. In order to bounce back against the Cougers, they need to limit turnovers and crash the offensive glass. Gonzaga also needs to get way more production from its front line than it did in the first match-up. Robert Sacre went for 11/5, Elias Harris went for 7/6, and Sam Dower went for 15/5. They had five offense rebounds among the three of them and Dower had none. Gonzaga cannot expect to do much going into the post season if their big men cannot lead the way.
- The outcome of this game hinges on the performance of the Gonzaga frontline. They are fully capable of taking over the game on offense and using their size on defense. If they get a performance on par with the previous BYU match-up, they will lose again.
Other Games to Watch:
- #19 Murray State at Tennessee State (8:00PM EST on ESPNU): Time for the Racers to make up for their only loss on the season. Watch the turnovers for Murray State.
- #23 Louisville at Cincinnati (9:00PM EST on ESPN): Both teams locked-up at 9-5 in the Big East. This one is for Big East Tournament positioning.
***** – 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