Set Your TiVo: 02.28.12Posted by bmulvihill on February 28th, 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.
We are counting down until March as the college hoops frenzy begins to build. Tonight the Michigan State Spartans look to clinch an improbable Big Ten regular season title and some teams in question look for answers in the SEC.
#4 Michigan State at #21 Indiana – 7:00PM EST on ESPN HD (****)
- With a win tonight, Michigan State would clinch the Big Ten regular season title and a possible number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Spartans are playing extremely strong basketball heading into March having won seven games in a row. Over the last 10 games, only Minnesota was able to shoot above 50% eFG against Tom Izzo and company. Keep a close eye on how Sparty defends Indiana’s two-point shooting specifically Cody Zeller. While Indiana is one of the top three-point shooting teams in the nation, they do not take many from downtown and their offense depends quite heavily on the free throw line. If Michigan State is playing strong interior defense without fouling, the Hoosiers will have a tough time winning this game.
- It will be important for Indiana to establish Zeller early by feeding the post. Additionally, the guards need to drive the ball to the net to create fouls or easy three-point opportunities on the drive and kick. Look to see if Indiana can create turnovers. Michigan State has had some trouble with turnovers including a turnover rate of 28% in their last game against Nebraska. While that game was a complete blow out, Indiana’s offense can make a team pay for such mistakes. The Hoosiers are 3-7 when creating turnovers on less than 18% of opponents possessions, so it’s an extremely important stat to watch during the game.
- This game will be won in the paint. Michigan State throws Draymond Green, Adreian Payne, and Derrick Nix at Zeller. The trio held Zeller to 4 points and 4 rebounds in 23 minutes of action in the Spartans victory over the Hoosiers in late December. Zeller is going to have to have a much bigger game in order to take this one from the Spartans.
#17 Florida at Vanderbilt – 9:00PM EST on ESPN HD (****)
- Florida is coming off a terrible loss on the road to Georgia. With the jury still out on the Gators chances in March, a road win at Vanderbilt would be nice to see from Billy Donovan’s team. In their previous match-up this season, Florida’s three-point shooting and offensive rebounding was the difference in the Gator win. UF was 11-24 from downtown with Kenny Boynton and Bradley Beal leading the way. Expect a lot of the same in this one, as Florida shoots 45.5% of its shots from deep. Keep a close eye on their ability to convert threes in what’s sure to be a shootout.
- Vanderbilt was 8-25 from downtown in their first match-up of the season with Gators and it cost them. The Commodores are the top three-point shooting team in the SEC at 42.3%, so expect more from them on the outside in this one. Interestingly enough, Vanderbilt also gets to the line at greater rate than any other team in the SEC. A strange stat considering over 41% of their shots are from deep. Check to see if Festus Ezeli is able to create contact down low and get to the line.
- These two teams combines for 49 three-point attempts in their first go around. Nothing says this one should be any different. The team that shoots better from long distance is likely to win. However, keep an eye on the team that picks up a few extra offensive boards. Getting a few second chance points of those missed threes will be key.
Other Games to Watch:
- Xavier at Saint Louis (9:00PM EST on CBS Sports Network): Xavier sits one game behind the Billikens in a tight A-10. Should be a close on in St. Louis.
- Weber State at Montana (9:00PM EST on Altitude): Huge game in the Big Sky for the top two teams in the conference. Both teams sit at 14-1. This one decides the regular season title.
***** – 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