Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on December 7th, 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.

With a month to go in the non-conference season, we are starting to sort out the contenders from the pretenders. This weekend provides some additional match-ups that will give us a better indication of which teams we should watch out for come March. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

Colorado at #10 Kansas  2:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (***)

This Weekend Colorado Tries to Beat Kansas for the First Time Since 2003

  • You might call this game a renewal of a Big 12 rivalry but the reality is that it has been far from a “rivalry.” Kansas has not lost to Colorado since the 2002-03 season. While this will be the first time that CU plays Kansas as a member of the Pac-12, coach Tad Boyle is 0-3 against the Jayhawks since taking the helm in Boulder two seasons ago. The big question for the Buffaloes will be how they handle KU center Jeff Withey. A few weeks ago, CU was able to slow down another seven-footer in Isaiah Austin when they defeated Baylor. However, Withey is not a freshmen trying to fit himself into “The Pierre Jackson Show.” He’s a senior who has proven to be a dominant force on defense and a capable offensive threat. Withey also cleans up on the glass, particularly on the defensive end. Colorado needs to figure out how to grab some of those misses lest it become a long night. Keep an eye on the three-point shooting of Colorado guards Askia Booker and Spencer Dinwiddie. Both are threats from deep and both need to be on target to have a chance to win this one.

Temple vs. #1 Duke  3:15 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

  • Last season, Temple beat Duke in Philadelphia on the backs of Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Khalif Wyatt. Hollis-Jefferson and Wyatt combined to go 15-22 from the field in a somewhat surprising upset of the Blue Devils. The Owls also did it without this season’s leading scorer, Scootie Penn. However, when you compare this Duke team to last season’s team, they are more balanced and more patient without Austin Rivers dominating the ball. The Blue Devils have scoring threats all over the floor and point guard Quinn Cook is proving to be an excellent distributor. Additionally, Mason Plumlee has been superb. The key for the Owls will be figuring out a way to stop Plumlee in the paint. Unfortunately for Temple, scoring can come from anywhere when playing the Blue Devils. They are too balanced and too battle tested at this point to drop one to the Owls this year.
UCLA vs. Texas  5:15 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (***)
  • Fortunately for UCLA and Texas, someone has to win this game – it’s in the rules. Both teams are playing terrible basketball. Texas is coming off a game against Georgetown where its eFG% was less than its turnover rate (31% vs. 32% respectively). I would like to see Ken Pomeroy do an analysis to see how often that happens in a game – my guess is rarely. UCLA is coming off a loss to San Diego State where they gave up an eFG% of 60%. In theory, UCLA has way more offensive weapons than the Longhorns but it’s unclear what kind of effort we will see from them. Pay close attention to the intensity of the UCLA players — at some point coach Ben Howland has to get more from his team. If not, they will continue to lose games they have no business losing.

Wisconsin at Marquette  6:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (***)

  • The question for Marquette is whether they will be rested or rusty. The Golden Eagles haven’t played since their November 29 blowout loss to Florida. Since they will be playing at home, my guess is they will be rested and Buzz Williams will have them prepared for the Badgers. Turnovers will play a big role in whether or not Marquette can win this game. They need turnovers to win and they lose when they cough the ball up too much. Play close attention to both sides of the turnover equation for MU, as Wisconsin typically does not make mistakes with the ball. Watch the Badgers on the offensive boards. The Golden Eagles rank 221st in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage. If Wisconsin can take advantage, particularly forward Jared Berggren, they will win. Look for Berggren to have a big game, because MU doesn’t have anyone that can hang with him.

#8 Arizona at Clemson  8:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (***)

  • So far this season, the Pac-12 is 5-6 in true road games. The conference as a whole needs more quality road wins prior to the conference season to put themselves in a better position come March. Arizona beat Clemson last year in Tucson but the jury is still out on this year’s Wildcats. They have played a cupcake schedule thus far, but we will get a good indication of how good this team is against Clemson tomorrow and then next weekend at home against Florida. We should see a good frontcourt battle in this contest but you should expect the U of A backcourt to ultimately be the difference. Guards Mark Lyons and Nick Johnson should be watched throughout the game. If they are playing as well as they have been, Arizona should win.

Illinois at #9 Gonzaga  10:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (***)

Mark Few and Gonzaga Look to Avenge Last Season’s Lost to the Illini (AP)

  • The Illini defeated Gonzaga last season in Champaign as an unranked team facing a ranked Bulldog squad. The script is similar this year but there are two major differences – Gonzaga is at home and Illinois does not have seven-footer Meyers Leonard around. The Zags’ frontcourt will be tough for Illinois to handle. Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk, Przernek Karnowski, and Sam Dower give Mark Few a lot of size and a lot of production in the paint. The Illini counters with a strong backcourt in D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul, and while Paul is capable of dropping 40 points on any given night, beating the Zags at home with their size is a tall order. Not to mention the Bulldogs backcourt of Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos is nothing to sneeze at. This will be a good test for both squads but it will take a herculean effort from Paul to keep the lllini in this one.

#22 UNLV at California  6:00 PM EST, Sunday on ESPNU (***)

  • UNLV won this contest in a blowout last season against a Cal squad that may have been overall more talented than they are this year. While the Bears bring back Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe, it is unclear where additional scoring will come from for Mike Montgomery’s team. Cobbs and Crabbe are certainly one of the best one-two scoring tandems in the country, averaging 18 and 22 points per game, respectively. However, UNLV brings a strong defense into this game that will require the Bears to find other options. If they do not find other scoring options, they could get blown out again. Keep a close eye on UNLV forwards Mike Moser and Anthony Bennett because they need to keep Cal from getting second chance points. The Rebels have not been great on the defensive glass, so you’ll want to watch these two to see if they can make the adjustment in Berkeley.
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