Set Your DVR: Weekend EditionPosted by bmulvihill on December 21st, 2012
A top ten battle with a bit of recent history leads a solid slate of games this weekend. We are down to the last few non-conference games before we go full tilt into the conference season starting in the new year. It is going to be interesting to see who starts to separate from the pack as we head towards March. Let’s get to the breakdowns.
Game of the Weekend
#8 Kansas at #7 Ohio State– 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on CBS (*****)
- Kansas beat Ohio State twice last season. Once in the regular season in Lawrence and once in the Final Four. Both teams are without their main contributors from last season in Jared Sullinger for OSU and Thomas Robinson for KU. The key for Kansas in both wins was field goal defense. They held OSU to under 40% shooting in both outings. The Jayhawks come into this game with another solid defense led by center Jeff Withey. Withey provides an inside presence that the Buckeyes will need to game plan around. They had trouble with Duke\’s Mason Plumlee in last month\’s loss to the Blue Devils. Plumlee put up 21 points and 17 rebounds against a Buckeye team that is a bit thin on the inside. While Withey\’s offensive skills may not be as refined as Plumlee\’s, he is capable of putting up 20+ points and will certainly be a major factor on defense. Additionally, pay close attention to the KU guards. Travis Releford, Ben McClemore, and Elijah Johnson are big guards. Look to see if they can take advantage of their size.
- Ohio State has only lost two non-conference home games since Thad Matta got to Columbus in 2005. They lost in 2008 to North Carolina and in 2009 to West Virginia. While OSU is struggling a bit to find a legit second and third scoring threat, it’s hard to argue against a record like that at home. I learned that when Notre Dame beat Kentucky earlier this season. Still though, DeShaun Thomas is going to need help on the offensive end if Thad Matta and company are to keep that home record intact. Watch Aaron Craft, as he will be the X factor for the Buckeyes. He is averaging just under 10 points a game thus far but is capable of more. Watch the match-up between Craft and Johnson for Kansas. Johnson is turning the ball over frequently (25%) and Craft is one of the best ball thieves in the business. If he can create turnover and get the Buckeyes out on the run, OSU will be in good shape.
- It’s tough to argue against Ohio State’s home record and they are still a very talented team, but I think Withey and the big guards make the difference in this contest. Look for Withey to shut down any second chance opportunities and defend the hoop against a slashing Thomas. Plus Kansas has this to inspire them.
More Great Action
#14 Missouri vs. #10 Illinois – 6:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (****)
- Illinois’ win at Gonzaga may be the best win of the year thus far, along side Butler’s OT victory against Indiana. As it turns out, Illinois beat Butler as well, so it’s time to take John Groce’s team seriously. The guard match-ups should be excellent in this game. The keys for Missouri will be creating turnovers and getting offensive rebounds. The Tigers aren’t turning teams over like they have in the past but the addition of Alex Oriakhi has helped the rebounding situation tremendously. Mizzou ranks 7th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. The Tigers will still have to contain Illinois’ Brandon Paul, however. If he gets loose like he did against Gonzaga, it will be another nice win for the Illini.
#5 Florida vs. Kansas State– 8:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (***)
- Florida stumbled on the road last weekend against a talented Arizona squad. Turnovers and free throws got the best of them. Now they head to Kansas City for a semi-road game against Kansas State. The Wildcats aren’t nearly the offensive team that Arizona is. In fact, they do one thing well on offense and that’s rebound. However, their poor shooting gives them more opportunities than most teams. Coach Bruce Weber needs to get more from his offense if he wants to be a potent Florida squad. Also, keep an eye on the Wildcats on the defensive boards. As good as they are on the offensive glass, they are almost equally bad on the defensive glass. That’s a bad sign against the Gators who rank 12th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. Expect the UF to bounce back in a big way on Saturday.
Temple vs. #4 Syracuse– 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (***)
- Temple just lost to Canisius on Wednesday by 10. Canisius got blown out by Syracuse by 24. The transitive property tells us this one probably won’t be close. The Syracuse length is going to be tough on every team they play this season but it will be particularly tough on Temple as they are lacking in size all around. Temple is doesn’t make a lot of mistakes with the ball, so they will have a chance if they do not turn the ball over. Unfortunately, the Orange is one of the best in the country at getting teams to cough up the rock.
Texas at Michigan State– 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (***)
- Texas can finally get used to the fact that Myck Kabongo is not going to play this season. Their relatively surprising win against UNC this past week was a step in the right direction and provides the team with some hope. Michigan State on the other hand hasn’t played any quality competition since they lost to Miami at the end of November. Without Kabongo though, Texas will probably have a tough time against the MSU guard trio of Brandon Dawson, Keith Appling, and Gary Harris. The Longhorn defense has been strong though, so don’t count them out.
LSU at Marquette– 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPNU (***)
- Once LSU lost to Boise State last week, everyone seemed to confirmed what we already believed – their undefeated record was a hoax. With a free throw percentage of 56%, a turnover rate of 23.4%, and terrible defensive rebounding, who could blame anyone for thinking that way. But every team deserves a second chance and the Tigers get a shot at redeeming themselves against a scrappy Marquette team. While Golden Eagles have had some of their own troubles, they have shown some potential. If LSU can cause turnovers, they have a chance in this game. However, with such a low free throw rate, it’s hard to bet on them in a close game.
Florida State vs. Charlotte – 2:00PM EST, Saturday on CBS College Sports (***)
- Florida State has some strange losses this season against South Alabama and Mercer. They still haven’t gotten things together on the defensive side of the ball. They run up against a Charlotte team that has been feasting on cupcakes. Since Charlotte does not have a potent offense, they will not be able to exploit the FSU defense as others have. If they are to pull off the win, they need to do it with defense. FSU is turning the ball over on 23% of their possessions, so this will probably be a close game throughout.
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