Set Your DVR: Weekend EditionPosted by bmulvihill on January 18th, 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.
The top teams in several conferences go head-to-head and a non-conference mid-major battle in the midwest should provide a spectacular weekend of college hoops. Let’s get to the breakdowns.
#6 Syracuse at #1 Louisville – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (*****)
- The cream of the Big East crop lock up in what should be an epic defensive battle. This may be the best defensive match-up we will see all season. Jim Boeheim’s match-up zone versus Rick Pitino’s press will be fun to watch. Louisville is known for its ability to create lots of turnovers, but Syracuse is almost just as good at causing teams to make mistakes. Additionally, Syracuse blocks a bunch of shots and locks down the perimeter. Louisville counters with its own shot-blocker deluxe in Gorgui Dieng. The question for Syracuse is how they will break the Louisville press — look to see if they use their length to make passes over the top of the Cardinals’ defense to get down the court. Also, watch the guard match-up between Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse and Peyton Siva and Russ Smith of Louisville. Triche and Carter-Williams have a significant size advantage that could make scoring from the Louisville backcourt limited, although Smith just seems to find ways to score anyway. Ultimately, this game will come down to whose defense plays better, but this game is shaping up to be a classic.
#17 Missouri at #8 Florida – 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- Florida is coming off a dominant win against Texas A&M and is beginning to separate itself from the rest of the SEC. A win by Missouri on the road would be huge for the Tigers as they head into a stretch of games against the bottom tier of the league. Missouri needs to find a way to control the offensive boards without Laurence Bowers available if they are going to have a shot at winning this game. The Gators have been one of the toughest teams to shoot against this season, so don’t expect the Tigers to get a lot of great looks. However, as one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country, the Tigers have a chance if they can get put-backs and tip-ins. The key will be the battle down low between Alex Oriakhi and Patric Young so pay close attention to those two big men battling inside. Also, keep an eye on Missouri’s perimeter defense. Florida is taking 40% of its total shots from three — if the Gators’ shooters are hitting from the outside, it’s going to be tough sledding for Missouri in its first SEC trip to Gainesville.
Oregon at #21 UCLA – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on CBS (****)
- The Pac-12 is looking like a three team battle between Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon. With the Ducks already knocking off the Wildcats, they can make a huge statement early in the conference season with a road win against the Bruins. It won’t be easy, however, as UCLA has quietly put together a 10-game winning streak including back-to-back road wins against Utah and Colorado. Keep a close eye on turnovers in this game. Oregon is turning the ball over frequently at a rate of over 21% of its possessions. We have seen road teams get down early recently because of multiple mistakes in a hostile environment. If the Bruins can create turnovers early with some tough defense, it will make things very difficult for the Ducks in Pauley Pavilion. Also, watch the rebounding numbers. The Ducks are a far superior team on the glass at both ends. UCLA’s Kyle Anderson and the Wear brothers need to box out. Rebounding will keep Oregon in the game and could prove to be the difference if they are able to avoid turnovers.
#11 Creighton at Wichita State – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (****)
- Luckily, we get another match-up between the top two teams in a conference, this time in the Missouri Valley. With Doug McDermott leading what could be the nation’s best offensive attack, Wichita State has to figure out how to slow down the Bluejays. Creighton is shooting a ridiculous 45.4% from three and 56.9% from two. Nothing from the Shockers statistics shows us they will be able to stop McDermott and company, but that’s why they play the game. The key for Wichita State is to limit turnovers. They are turning the ball over at a rate of 21.9% and cannot afford to give Creighton more possessions on offense while coming up empty on the other end. Look for the Shockers to work through Cleanthony Early on offense and try to limit their mistakes otherwise. It’s going to be tough against such an efficient and effective offense as Creighton, but playing at home will help.
#12 Ohio State at #16 Michigan State – 6:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- The key match-up in this game will be Aaron Craft against Keith Appling. Craft showed last week he can slow down a team’s catalyst when he made things tough for Trey Burke of Michigan. Appling gets the Spartans going, so if Craft can have the same affect in this game, Ohio State has a shot at stealing one at the Breslin Center. Also, it will be interesting to see if Brandon Dawson is matched-up with Deshaun Thomas. Both are extremely athletic, so it will be fun to see who comes out ahead. Michigan State needs points in the paint from Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix. If these two can go to work on the inside and get the Spartans to the line, they will be in good shape down the stretch. This will be another great Big Ten regular season game.
#23 UNLV at Colorado State – 7:00 PM EST, Saturday on NBC Sports Network (****)
- The Mountain West is shaping up to be one of the best conference races in college hoops and UNLV and Colorado State will be in it all season. The Rams were undefeated at home last year in MW play, so UNLV has its work cut out for itself. Colton Iverson is a force for Colorado State on offense so his match-up down low against Mike Moser and Anthony Bennett will be a big key to this game. Neither team shoots well, which seems to be common in the Mountain West, so rebounding will be extremely important – particularly on the offensive end. Colorado State ranks third nationally in OR%, but they haven’t faced Bennett and Moser. Keep a close eye on points in the paint, as that should be the difference.
#9 Gonzaga at #15 Butler – 9:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- The big news heading into this game is that Butler will be without Rotnei Clarke. Without Clarke, Butler’s outside scoring threat decreases significantly. That means Andrew Smith‘s role in the offense becomes significantly more important. Smith has played extremely well in his last three games but he faces one of the nation’s best frontcourts in Gonzaga. With Clarke out and Smith facing an uphill battle in the paint, where does the scoring punch come from for Butler? If Butler can’t find scoring, it will be a long day at Hinkle. Gonzaga’s balanced offense will be tough to stop, although I said that when Butler played Indiana. Butler needs to find a way to slow down Gonzaga with its defense because they are not going to outscore the Zags without Clarke.
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