Set Your DVR: Week of 11.27.12Posted by bmulvihill on November 27th, 2012
The ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday/Wednesday nights will give us some of the best non-conference match-ups we’ll see this season. It should be a great battle between two of the top conferences in the nation. We sneak in Kentucky vs. Notre Dame also later this week. Let’s get to the breakdowns.
#23 Minnesota at #25 Florida State – 7:15 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN2 (****)
- Minnesota comes into this game battle tested from a tough, early non-conference schedule. With the exception of the Gophers’ loss to Duke, Tubby Smith’s squad is winning with defense. Typically, we would say the same thing about Florida State’s defense, but it’s their offense that is winning their games this season. The Seminoles are shooting 56% from two and 41% from three. While Minnesota has only allowed opponents to hit 29.6% of their three-point attempts this season, they have been susceptible to the long ball in their last three outings. Additionally, they have been poor on the defensive glass, allowing teams to grab 37% of their misses. FSU has four players that shoot over 40% from beyond the arc and they are actually taller than the Gophers, particularly in the backcourt. Pay close attention to FSU’s three-point shooting and offensive rebounding in this one. Because Minnesota is not a great shooting team, they are going to have to figure out a way to deal with the Seminoles’ size on the offensive glass. Thus far, the Gophers are grabbing 47.3% of their missed shots on the offensive end, which is good for fourth in the nation. The winner of this game will be the team that owns the offensive glass.
#21 North Carolina State at #5 Michigan – 7:30 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (*****)
- Both of these teams are in the top 20 in effective field goal percentage thus far in the season. Three-point shooting will be a key factor in this match-up with both teams hovering right around the 40% mark. The Wolfpack is led by Rodney Purvis and Scott Wood on the outside, shooting 58.8% and 44.8% respectively. Those are the only two players on NC State who have attempted more than 10 three-point shots on the season. The Wolverines, however, have four players – Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, and Glenn Robinson III – who have attempted 10+ threes and all are shooting at over 30%. Both teams are middle of the pack at defending the outside shot, so it will be interesting to see who is able to take this advantage. While offensive firepower seems to be the key in this game, defense will ultimately determine the winner. Michigan has held all of its opponents under a point per possession this season and has proven it can win ugly against Pittsburgh. NC State is the best offense UM has faced thus far, though, but the question remains if the Wolfpack can hold off the plethora of Wolverines who can score. NC State is coming off a shellacking at the hands of Oklahoma State and a very close win against UNC-Asheville, where they allowed an eFG of 56.3%. If they don’t improve that field goal defense against Michigan, they will get crushed again.
- It is safe to say this is the most anticipated match-up of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Coming off a disappointing trip to Maui, North Carolina needs to find its offense. If you remove the game against D-II Chaminade, the Tar Heels have shot over 50% eFG only once and that was against a terrible Mississippi State team. It does not get any easier against an Indiana team that is holding opponents to under 0.9 points per possession. More than that, the Hoosiers are playing really smart defense. They are not committing dumb fouls to give up foul shots and are not allowing teams to grab their misses. UNC’s James Michael McAdoo is doing his part, but who will step up against a supremely athletic Indiana team to take the weight off his shoulders? Roy Williams needs to find his offensive threats or this game in Bloomington could get away from the Heels. The Hoosiers showed some defensive weaknesses against Georgetown last week, particularly from three-point land, so watch to see if UNC can take advantage. The Tar Heels have four players who have 20 or more three-point attempts on the season. They are not afraid to launch it from deep, so keep an eye on their ability to drain it from long distance. Making a bunch of treys (as they did against Mississippi State in Maui) could be their best chance to pull off the upset.
#12 Michigan State at Miami (FL) – 7:30 PM EST, Wednesday on ESPN (***)
- Both of these teams are dominated by their guard play. If you like guards, this is your game. Interestingly, neither team relies heavily on three-point shooting. With most of their points coming from inside the arc, the team whose guards shoot better from two will most likely win this game. You’ll also want to keep an eye on Miami frontcourt players Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson. They have better scoring and rebounding numbers than MSU’s Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix thus far, so their match-up down low will be a key factor. Finally, free throws should play a big part in this game with so much of the action taking place inside the arc. Michigan State has had trouble getting to the line and Miami is not putting teams there, which is not a good combination for the Spartans. They need to find a way to get to the free throw line or they will end up losing the way they did in the UConn game.
#6 Ohio State at #1 Duke – 9:30 PM EST, Wednesday on ESPN (*****)
- Ohio State has not played the type of schedule that Duke has faced up to this point in the season. With games (and wins) against Kentucky, Minnesota, VCU, and Louisville, the Blue Devils have faced better competition than anyone in the country. They are clearly ready for the Buckeyes. The question remains, though, is OSU ready to go into Cameron Indoor Stadium? Thad Matta’s guys are familiar with Duke in that they blew them out last year in Columbus and they have enough players who have been in big games before. Nerves wouldn’t seem to be an issue, but pay close attention to how they play down the stretch. Duke’s players have already been in tough situations this year and have responded well. Both teams have been very efficient offensively, and again, Duke has proven they can get scoring from multiple sources — they have five players averaging in double figures, whereas the Buckeyes only have three. If Deshaun Thomas, Aaron Craft, or Lenzelle Smith Jr. have an off night, who is going to step up and fill the void? If OSU is going to win this game, they’ll need to do it on the defensive end. Louisville and VCU have shown that if a team can defend the Blue Devils’ three-point attack, they can potentially beat Duke. Unfortunately, in both of those games, allowing Duke to get to the line mitigated the chance to actually beat them. The Buckeyes rank 164th in three-point defense and 216th in allowing teams to get to the line. If they can’t improve those stats in this game, they won’t beat Duke in this rematch.
#8 Kentucky at Notre Dame – 7:00 PM EST, Thursday on ESPN (****)
- Notre Dame guards Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant have only reached their 2011-12 season averages of 12 points per game once in the same game this year, when they both scored 19 against BYU. These two have to be more consistent as the backcourt leaders of the Irish. They will be particularly important against Kentucky since the Wildcats have a distinct advantage in the frontcourt. With Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, and Willie Cauley-Stein, UK throws size and talent at the Irish at every position. While Notre Dame’s Jack Cooley can hold his own in the post, the Irish do not have another consistent presence on the inside to match Kentucky’s three freshmen big men. Atkins and Grant need to be able to create their shots and get to the line. In Notre Dame’s loss to St. Joseph’s, the Irish had a free throw rate of only 13%, its worst showing of the young season. Keep a close eye on Notre Dame’s ability to get to the line, particularly Atkins and Grant. If these two are unable to get at least 15 points each, Kentucky should walk away with the road win.