Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on January 4th, 2013

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Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

The first weekend in 2013 dives head first into conference season. There are some key match-ups within the Big Ten and Big 12 that will set the tone early for who to watch over the next two months. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#11 Ohio State at #13 Illinois – 2:15 PM EST, Saturday on BTN (****)

While Craft brings experience and relentless defense, losing Sullinger and Buford, and the outsized production loads they accounted for, will be an enormous hurdle for the transitioning Buckeyes (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire).

Aaron Craft needs to lock down the perimeter against Illinois (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire).

  • It seems odd to say that these two top 15 teams are in need of a win, but that appears to be the case in this particular match-up. Ohio State is 0-2 in its two big games against Duke and Kansas, leaving the Buckeyes without a marquee victory thus far, while Illinois has lost two of its last three games after starting 12-0. Illinois’ shooting has been quite poor over the last three games: star guard Brandon Paul has gone 5-of-18, 3-of-12, and 4-of-10 in that span. Alongside D.J. Richardson, the Illini guards will face a tough defensive test from OSU guards Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr., and Shannon Scott. Paul is always capable of a breakout game, but keep a close eye on his shooting as Illinois typically goes the way he goes. In their two losses this season to Duke and Kansas, the Buckeyes have faced dominant post players. Illinois does not have that asset per se, so that bodes well for the Buckeyes, even in Champaign. Big forward Tyler Griffey is Illinois’ best inside option, but he could have his hands full on defense if he is matched-up against DeShaun Thomas. Craft and the Buckeye perimeter defense is the key to this game and it doesn’t appear that the Illinois defense is strong enough to keep Thomas from scoring. While it will be a raucous home crowd for the Illini, I think OSU pulls off the win.

#21 Oklahoma State at Kansas State – 1:30 PM EST, Saturday on Big 12 Network (****)

  • Based on non-conference play, this game is shaping up to be the battle for second place in the Big 12. With Kansas looking dominant, Oklahoma State and Kansas State appear to be playing second fiddle to the Jayhawks. However, there is still a lot of basketball to be played, so you’ll want to keep tabs on each of these two teams. The disparity in Kansas State’s rebound numbers on offense and defense are pretty shocking. They rank seventh in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage and 202nd in defensive rebounding percentage. Either way, they need to keep it up on the offensive end because their shooting is extremely poor. Their record doesn’t seem sustainable if they don’t get better at shooting the ball (into the basket) quickly. Given Oklahoma State’s strong defense (save the Gonzaga game) and offensive talent, they should be able to beat Kansas State at home.

Temple at #4 Kansas – 4:30 PM EST, Sunday on CBS (***)

  • Kansas may be playing the best basketball in the country right now, so it’s a tall order to ask the Owls to go into Lawrence and take down the Jayhawks. While this could quickly become a blowout, we need to give Temple the benefit of the doubt given their win against Syracuse. The Owls were able to take advantage of the Orange’s poor defensive rebounding issues to pick up a bunch of second-chance opportunities in that game. It’s unlikely those opportunities will be there against 7’0″ defensive dynamo Jeff Withey. Look for Withey to have a big game as the Owls simply don’t have an answer for his size. At the same time, Temple doesn’t make many mistakes, so they can stay in this game Khalif Wyatt and company can knock down some shots on the road.

Georgetown at Marquette – 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on Big East Network (***)

  • Marquette is playing its fourth straight home game while Georgetown is playing for the first time since December 22. That’s a long layoff, so it will be interesting to see if the Hoyas are rested or rusty. Marquette guard Junior Cadougan has put up 17, 16, and 18 points in his last three outings on extremely efficient shooting. Cadougan isn’t known as a big scorer so keep an eye on how he deals with with Georgetown’s superior length. This should be a close game but look for the Golden Eagles to take down the Hoyas, who are playing their first true road game of the season.

Memphis at Tennessee – 8:00 PM EST, Friday on ESPN2 (***)

  • Tennessee has somehow managed to lose two games this season while holding opponents under 40% eFG. That’s tough to do, but given their offensive eFG is 46.8%, it seems more plausible. Like Kansas State, it will be tough for the Vols to have any sustained success this season when they are shooting so poorly. Look for the Tigers to go inside early and often to win this game as the Tennessee perimeter defense is very strong. However, if the Volunteers’ defense can prevent post feeds to Adonis Thomas and Shaq Goodwin, they should win this game at home.

North Carolina at Virginia – 8:00 PM EST, Sunday on ESPNU (***)

  • The big news in this game is that UNC looks like it will be without Reggie Bullock for the second game in a row due to a concussion. The Tar Heels were able to win without Bullock against a tough UNLV squad, but keep an eye on the Virginia defense this weekend. Their numbers are inflated against very mediocre opponents so it will be interesting to see how they respond against UNC at home.

#2 Michigan at Iowa – 12:00 PM EST, Sunday on BTN (***)

  • Michigan is crushing teams right now and can give Kansas and Duke a run for the mantle of best team right now. However, Iowa showed some heart against Indiana and proved that its size on defense can be very bothersome, even to the best teams. In order for the Hawkeyes to win this game, however, they need to get to the free throw line early and often. Unfortunately for Iowa, Michigan is one of the best teams in the country at keep teams off the line. This game might be a bit closer than some of the recent Wolverine wins, but they should still win this one in Ann Arbor.
bmulvihill (74 Posts)


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