Set Your DVR: Weekend EditionPosted by bmulvihill on January 11th, 2013
Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
College football is officially in the books and that means college hoops takes center stage. It’s going to be a great weekend of action highlighted by two Big Ten showdowns and an ACC battle that will shape the national picture. Good luck deciding which game you are going to watch at 12:00 PM EST tomorrow. Let’s get to the breakdowns.
#1 Duke at #21 North Carolina State – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (*****)
- The ACC is starting to look like Duke, North Carolina State, Miami, and then everyone else. The big news for the Blue Devils going into Saturday is the loss of forward Ryan Kelly to a foot injury for an indefinite period of time. Kelly’s loss appears to be significant for Duke but we really will not know the entire story until Saturday’s game is over. Kelly’s outside shooting and overall scoring threat will be missed, but it may be his size on defense that is missed most. Duke will be left with either freshmen Amile Jefferson and Alex Harris or junior Josh Hairston to help Mason Plumlee defend the interior. With an extremely athletic front line, NC State will test the Blue Devils’ resolve right away. Expect the Wolfpack to try to overwhelm Plumlee down low by attacking the inside. By doing this, they will attempt to put Plumlee in foul trouble and get to the line. If Plumlee gets into foul trouble, it will be a very long afternoon in Raleigh for the Dukies. The team that plays better defense will win this game.
#9 Minnesota at #4 Indiana– 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on BTN (*****)
- Minnesota made a statement in its blowout win at Illinois this week. They are looking for the Big Ten title and it’s going to take a great team to beat them. What’s most impressive about the win is actually their lack of offensive rebounding. That may seem like a crazy statement but when you consider how good they are on the offensive boards it makes sense. The Gophers lead the country in offensive rebounding percentage (OR%) at 48.5%. They are absolutely dominating that statistic. So when their OR% dipped to 25% against Illinois, their worst performance of the year, and yet they still won by 17 points, it means this team can do a lot more than just grab boards. Shooting 61% eFG proved that. Interestingly enough, however, it could be rebounding that derails the Gophers against Indiana. Minnesota actually struggles on the defensive boards and Indiana is ranked in the top 10 nationally there. With the incredible offensive weapons that Indiana has at its disposal, grabbing a bunch of misses is just salt in its opponents’ wounds. This game is going to be a great spectacle with tremendous match-ups all over the floor. Trevor Mbakwe against Cody Zeller might be the best big man battle we will see all year. If Minnesota can make it two road wins a row against the best in the Big Ten, watch out for Tubby Smith’s team.
UCLA at Colorado – 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on Pac-12 Network (***)
- While UCLA has eight wins in a row, a close call this week against Utah should give us pause once again. They now go up against a Colorado team that somehow let one tough loss against Arizona become two against Arizona State. You do not expect that from a Tad Boyle-coached team. However, the Buffs bounced back against USC at home on Thursday night. The key against UCLA will be Andre Roberson. Can anyone on UCLA match his energy? In order for the Bruins to win, they need the Wear brothers and Kyle Anderson to lock down Roberson and grab all their rebounding opportunities. This feels like one of those games where Roberson could grab 15 boards and make things very tough for Ben Howland and company, though.
#12 Missouri at Mississippi – 8:00 PM EST, Saturday on FSN Regional (****)
- Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy has gotten his team off to great starts in the last few years, but things seem to fall apart in the conference season. Saturday’s game against Missouri is a chance to redeem themselves and prove this team is a different animal. Ole Miss is another team where its stats are inflated due to poor competition. Sometimes in those instances, it’s instructive to examine what they are struggling with. If they are performing poorly in a certain area against weak competition, that may be a big red flag against better teams. For Ole Miss, its weakness is defensive rebounding. Unfortunately for the Rebels, Missouri ranks eighth in offensive rebounding percentage nationally. Keep a close eye on Alex Oriakhi for Missouri. If he’s grabbing boards on offense and getting a lot of putbacks, it’s lights out for Kennedy’s team.
#2 Michigan at #19 Ohio State – 1:30 PM EST, Sunday on CBS (*****)
- Michigan vs. Ohio State in hoops isn’t quite Michigan vs. Ohio State in football, but it’s certainly trying to become its own version of “The Game.” OSU is in a must-win situation very early in the season. The pressure is building for Thad Matta’s team, as they are still without a significant victory and are in danger of dropping out of the Top 25 polls. The match-up between Aaron Craft and Trey Burke at the point guard position will set the tone for the entire game. The question will be whether Craft can turn over a guy who just doesn’t make many miscues. If fact, the entire Michigan team is tough to force into mistakes. With a turnover rate of 14.5%, good for second nationally, the Wolverines steady hands combined with their extremely potent offense make them tough to beat. For Michigan, they need to bother DeShaun Thomas enough to force someone else from OSU to carry the offense. If they do, where do the points come from for the Buckeyes? Until a team shows they can slow down Michigan’s offensive attack and find its weakness, how can you pick against them? If this becomes a shootout, Ohio State stands no chance here. They need to play their best defense of the year to win.
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