Set Your DVR: Weekend EditionPosted by bmulvihill on November 30th, 2012
Many of the power conference teams hit the road for the very first time this weekend, so we should start to get a real sense of where teams stand early in the season. With a little less college football going on this weekend, you should make some time to catch a few games. Let’s get to the breakdowns.
Tennessee at #16 Georgetown – 6:30 PM EST, Friday on ESPN (****)
- Tennessee heads to Georgetown for its first true road game of the season. Like many of the games this past week in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and now the Big East/SEC Challenge, we are going to get a true indication of where a lot of teams stand. While the Vols are 4-1, they lost their toughest test against Oklahoma State. They face a Geogetown team that is extremely long. The Hoyas start four players who are at least 6’8”, while the “shortest” player, 6’2” guard Michael Starks, is their leading scorer. Look for the Hoyas to take advantage of their size and shoot a lot within the paint. Georgetown currently shoots 56% from inside the arc while the Vols rank 106th in the country in two-point defense. Also, keep a close eye on free throws. With this game looking like it’s going to take place inside the arc, free throws will be a key to victory. The Hoyas are struggling to get to the line and it caught up with them in their recent overtime loss to Indiana. On the other hand, Tennessee is ranked in the top 25 nationally in free throw rate. The team that gets to the line more and sinks its free throws should be the winner in this contest.
Baylor at #8 Kentucky - 12:30 PM EST, Saturday on CBS (****)
- Kentucky and Baylor are two teams in desperate need of a good win. Kentucky is coming off a beating on the road at the hands of Notre Dame. As coach John Calipari discussed in many of his preseason press conferences, the Wildcats are not consistent on offense or defense. As soon as you think they are coming together, they lay an egg and shoot 40% against ND. Baylor is also struggling to find an identity outside of “The Pierre Jackson Show.” While Jackson’s play has been mostly excellent, it does not seem to be working particularly well with recent losses to Colorado and College of Charleston. Kentucky will be tough to beat at home but they need better consistency on both ends of the court. They should be able to shoot the ball against a struggling Baylor defense, particularly from downtown. If the Wildcats can get back in the long-ball groove, they should win at home for the 56th straight time under Calipari.
#18 Oklahoma State at Virginia Tech - 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN3 (****)
- While Oklahoma State lost to Virginia Tech last year in a close contest and will play a true road game for the first time this year, the Cowboys have not been tested so far this season. More importantly, they have responded with drubbings of Tennessee and North Carolina State. For the Hokies, OSU is by far their toughest opponent to date. The Cowboys have been winning with solid defense. Opponents have been held to 36.3% from two and an overall eFG% of 39.8%. Typically, you may take these stats with a grain of salt given the competition, but Travis Ford’s team has played a strong schedule thus far. The match-up you should keep a close eye on is the Cowboy defense versus Virginia Tech guard Erick Green. The 6’3” Green is averaging 24.3 points per game thus far, and Ford will counter with a trio of big guards in 6’7” LeBryan Nash, 6’4” Marcus Smart, and 6’3” Markel Brown. Do not expect Green to hit for two dozen against the Pokes. If he does, Virginia Tech will be in good shape. Finally, watch the Hokies on the offensive glass. They currently rank 314th in the country in offensive rebounding rate against a fairly soft schedule. It’s not going to be easy for coach James Johnson’s squad to hit their shots, so he needs them to grab offensive boards desperately. If they don’t, look for the Cowboys to win in Blacksburg.
Alabama at #17 Cincinnati - 3:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (****)
- Alabama has struggled against Big East opponents the last two years. In 2010-11 they lost to Seton Hall and Providence and in 2011-12 they lost to Georgetown. They will try to get back into the win column this year in their first true road game at Cincinnati. This one is shaping up to be a real defensive battle but you’ll want to keep a close eye on the three-point shooting of Bearcats Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright. Kilpatrick is 18-43 (41.9%) on the season from downtown and Wright is 19-40 for a mind boggling 47.5%. It’s unlikely either of them will keep up that pace for the entire season but it is definitely worth watching in this game, as Alabama’s three-point defense is showing some vulnerability. Defense will win this one though, and Cincinnati will be tough to beat at home.
Saint Joseph’s at #13 Creighton - 3:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN3 (****)
- Saint Joseph’s beat Creighton last year in Philadelphia on great offensive rebounding and free throws. The Hawks return the same players this year, including previously suspended point guard Carl Jones, to face Creighton in Omaha. Jones dropped 29 points on the Blue Jays last season. Phil Martelli seemed to be content with letting Creighton forward Doug McDermott do his usual damage but shut down everyone else and hammered the glass. The key question for Creighton in this game is who will step up in the scoring column. The Bluejays are coming off a tough loss to Boise State and their lack of scoring beyond McDermott is starting to become apparent. The only other player on the team averaging double figure is Ethan Wregge. Greg McDermott needs Grant Gibbs or Gregory Echenique to improve their offensive output. He also needs Echenique to get on the glass, because you can expect St. Joe’s forwards Ronald Roberts, C.J. Aiken, and Halil Kanacevic to be all over any missed shots. This should be a close contest between two experienced teams.
Belmont at Virginia Commonwealth - 8:00 PM EST, Saturday on Comcast Sports Mid-Atlantic (***)
- This game feels a lot like a Bracketbusters TV match-up in late February. Both teams already have solid wins over power conference opponents like Memphis and Stanford. While Belmont has proved it can win on the road in recent seasons, VCU is a very tough place to get a win. This game will come down to Belmont’s ability to handle the VCU press and free throws. The Rams just aren’t getting to the line this season and Belmont seemingly puts everyone on the line. It’s a problem area for both clubs and something has to give in this game.
#20 San Diego State vs. UCLA - 10:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPNU (****)
- This is a perplexing game in that both teams have a lot of talent, yet San Diego State is struggling on offense and UCLA appears to be the laziest team in the country. The Aztecs are getting points from Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley, but no one else is making a significant contribution. SDSU is shooting under 40% from two and a disastrous 59.4% from the line. Even if you throw out the aircraft carrier game against Syracuse, Steve Fisher’s team still isn’t killing it on offense. On paper, UCLA has the scoring firepower to play with anyone in the country. But after seeing this team play live, you can tell that they do not yet have the work ethic or hunger to beat really good teams (or some bad ones for that matter). It’s an attitude problem that coach Ben Howland needs to correct or it is going to be a long, long season in Westwood. Look for the Bruins to step up in an event named after their former great coach John Wooden. However, don’t be surprised if their lethargic play continues.
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