Set Your DVR: Opening Weekend

Posted by bmulvihill on November 9th, 2012

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The college basketball season is finally here! This season Set Your DVR (ed. note: sadly, nobody has TiVos anymore) will be a twice-weekly column outlining the must-see games for the upcoming week and weekend.  This column will lay out the key factors in each game to focus on and how those factors could affect the outcome. It’s a military-themed weekend of hoops with three games taking place on aircraft carriers and one game taking place at a military base located across the Atlantic Ocean.  Let’s get to the breakdowns.

Game of the Weekend

#16 San Diego State vs. #5 Syracuse – 4:00 PM EST, 11/11/12 on FSN HD (*****)

Jim Boeheim takes the Orange to the USS Midway to take on San Diego State

  • The USS Midway provides the backdrop for an exciting opener between Syracuse and San Diego State. SDSU returns four starters including Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin as well as Chase Tapley, James Rahon, and Xavier Thomas. Keep a close eye on the match-up between the Aztec guards and Syracuse point guard Brandon Triche. Triche is taking over for Scoop Jardine and faces a tough test against this crew. Steve Fisher’s squad will have to improve in two areas if they are going to start beating top-tier programs like Syracuse – shooting and offensive rebounding. The Aztecs grabbed only 30.8% of their offensive rebound opportunities last season, so if they are only going to hit 33% of their three-point attempts and 49.8% of their two-point attempts like they did in 2011-12, it’s going to be difficult to beat the best teams in the country. Watch to see if transfers Dwayne Polee II and J.J. O’Brien can help the Aztecs grab more of those missed shots.
  • After losing four starters to graduation and the NBA Draft, Syracuse is in a much different place than SDSU. Jim Boeheim’s ability to fill the talent void will be a key factor in determining if this Orange team can beat an experienced Aztec team. The ‘Cuse returns two significant contributors from last year’s team – C.J. Fair and Triche. Both players need to improve their sub-50% eFG in order to prevent the team from taking a step backwards.  The key to the Orange’s success in this game and in the future, however, may be 6’8” senior forward James Southerland. In a somewhat limited role last year, Southerland put up some impressive shooting numbers from inside the arc. Keep a close eye on Southerland’s ability to take advantage of his size inside the three-point line. Syracuse will also be able to throw additional size at the Aztecs with 6’9” sophomore Rakeem Christmas, 6’10” junior Baye Keita, and 6’7” 275 lb. wide-body freshman, DaJuan Coleman.
  • If this aircraft carrier game is anything like last year’s game between Michigan State and North Carolina, good shooting will be tough to come by because of the outdoor sightlines. The difference in this one will probably be on the offensive glass. Given the Aztecs’ struggles on the offensive boards and their clear size disadvantage, Syracuse gets the edge here. Don’t count out the experience factor of San Diego State, though.

More Great Hoops

#6 Michigan State vs. Connecticut – 5:30 PM EST, 11/9/12 on ESPN HD (****)

  • Connecticut wastes no time in testing new coach Kevin Ollie with a game against Michigan State at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. Keep a close eye on the guard match-ups in this game. UConn will rely heavily on Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright. Both players will need to improve on their sub-50% two-point field goal percentage in order to keep this contest close. Michigan State’s backcourt is led by Keith Appling, but you will want to watch how sophomore guard Branden Dawson performs. He is coming off an ACL tear at the end of last season and may take some time to get back into the swing of things.  If he cannot give the Spartans 100%, Tom Izzo’s options become more limited. Finally, look to see if UConn has an answer for Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne on the inside for the Spartans. If not, Sparty will run away with this one.

#9 Ohio State vs. Marquette – 7:00 PM EST, 11/9/12 on NBC Sports Network HD (****)

  • Continuing with the military theme, Ohio State takes on Marquette aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston, South Carolina. With the losses of Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom from last year’s Golden Eagles squad and the recent loss of Todd Mayo to academic ineligibility, all eyes move to Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett. His ability to score at the shooting guard position is vital for Marquette in this game. Also, watch the match-up between MU point guard Junior Cadougan and Ohio State point guard Aaron Craft. Cadougan should see an uptick in productivity with the departure of Johnson-Odom, but it may not happen in this game against the defensive stalwart Craft. While Ohio State loses two-time All-America Jared Sullinger, they bring back great talent in Craft, DeShaun Thomas, and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. One of the key things to watch in this game is Thomas’ ability to handle the pressure of being the focus of the offense without Sullinger backing him inside. Ohio State probably has too much talent and experience for a retooling Marquette squad.

#10 Florida vs. Georgetown – 9:00 PM EST, 11/9/12 on NBC Sports Network HD (****)

Otto Porter Will Be on Every Gator’s Mind In This One (AP/R. Sutton)

  • Not to be left out of the aircraft carrier craze sweeping the opening weekend, Georgetown takes on Florida on the USS Bataan in Jacksonville, Florida. For the Hoyas, Otto Porter is their go-to guy. The Gators will focus much of their defense on stopping him. Porter will need to have an incredible game if Georgetown is to pull off a win here, though. Kenny Boynton, Patric Young, and Mike Rosario are all back for a solid Florida team coming off an Elite Eight run last season.  However, with yesterday’s suspension of starting point guard Scottie Wilbekin, Billy Donovan is going to have to do some experimenting with the starting line-up. The Gators seemed to have a tough time rebounding in their recent exhibition game against Division II Nebraska-Kearney, so he may try to go bigger. Keep on eye how this plays out against a much tougher and taller Hoya team. If Florida runs on all cylinders, Donovan’s team should beat Georgetown.  If rebounding continues to be a problem, the Hoyas have a chance to pull an early upset.

Three Other Games to Watch

Lehigh at #15 Baylor – 5:00 PM EST, 11/9/12 on FSN Southwest HD (***)

  • The match-up between Lehigh guard C.J. McCollum and Baylor guard Pierre Jackson is reason enough to tune into this game. Both have very high assist rates and are extremely strong defenders. Jackson has a tendency to turn the ball over, so keep an eye on that number. Look for Jackson and Baylor guard Brady Heslip to light it up from the outside.

#2 Kentucky vs. Maryland – 8:30 PM EST, 11/9/12 on ESPN HD (***)

  • We all want to see how the reloaded Kentucky Wildcats look. They lost a ton of talent but reload with the number one recruit in the country, center Nerlens Noel, and a host of other talented freshmen. Maryland counters with James Padgett and the newly eligible transfer Dez Wells from Xavier. Let’s see how the Kentucky freshmen play in their opener in Brooklyn.

South Dakota State at Alabama – 9:00 PM EST, 11/9/12 on ESPN HD (***)

  • If you have not seen South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters play, Friday night is your chance. Wolters is a dynamic player going up against a rock-solid Alabama defense. The Tide should win the game, but the Wolters vs. Alabama defense match-up makes this one worth tuning into.

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 dvr but make sure you watch it later
** – set your dvr but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2015
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the dvr’s) of any kind on this game 

bmulvihill (74 Posts)

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