Set Your DVR: Weekend EditionPosted by bmulvihill on January 25th, 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.
While this weekend’s slate of games doesn’t quite match last weekend’s, there are several conference match-ups that are vitally important in the Big Ten, ACC, and Mountain West. The theme of the weekend is “must win”. The action should be great, so don’t sleep on these games. Let’s get to the breakdowns!
#5 Louisville at Georgetown – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- Louisville is trying to avoid a three-game losing streak, as they head on the road to Georgetown. Another loss by the Cardinals and Rick Pitino may have to do some reevaluating or reshuffling. For Georgetown, a fourth loss in the Big East this early would certainly put them on the verge of irrelevance. This game is the first of three straight home games for the Hoyas before heading on the road to Rutgers. If they can string together some wins prior to their match-up against Marquette next month, the Hoyas can keep themselves in the thick of the Big East race. In Louisville’s two losses to Syracuse and Villanova, they have struggled against the length of both teams. They simply could not get good shots over the taller players from the Syracuse and Nova. They shot 46.6% eFG and 44.8% eFG against those two teams. Georgetown is another long team. In order for Louisville to avoid a three-game skid, they must figure out a way to hit shots. Creating turnovers without capitalizing on them will not get it done on the road. The Hoyas on the other hand still need to protect the ball and play at their pace. If they are turning the ball over, which they have been doing in conference play, and the pace speeds up, it will be a big problem for John Thompson III‘s squad.
#10 Minnesota at Wisconsin – 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on BTN (****)
- Minnesota has lost three straight games while Wisconsin has lost two straight. Because the Big Ten is so tough this year, it’s too early to say that either team would be out of the race with another loss. However, it will make things much more difficult. The Gophers are struggling on defense in conference play and when they get aggressive, they are fouling. They are also turning the ball over at a rate of 24%. This isn’t the same team we saw in non-conference play. They have put themselves in a must win situation very early in Big Ten play. Similarly, Wisconsin is struggling after their big win against Indiana. They need to continue to play at their pace. If Minnesota can speed this game up with its great athletes, Wisconsin will have a tough time competing. Play close attention to Jared Berggren on the glass. He has to have a monster rebounding game in order for the Badgers to win. If Wisconsin can find a way to get to the line, they can make it four losses in a row for the Gophers.
#19 New Mexico at #24 San Diego State – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on NBC Sports (****)
- San Diego State is already two games behind in the loss column to conference leader New Mexico. A third game would be a huge setback to the Aztecs as Mountain West play is looking very, very tough early on. The Lobos have had some very big wins early in the conference season with a mediocre, if not poor, offense. According to KenPom, their adjusted offensive efficiency is 99.1 or less than a point per possession. Clearly, their defense is getting it done though. They are making it tough on teams to score, creating turnovers at a rate of 24%, and not putting teams on the line for easy points. The Aztecs are going to need all the offense they can muster to beat this Lobo squad. Unfortunately for San Diego State, Xavier Thames has been hampered by injury since the start of MW play. He has missed a few games and is truly struggling to hit two-point shots. In his last four games, he is 0-0, 0-6, 0-3, and 0-2 from inside the arc. While he has been hitting some threes, he needs to get it going from two point land as well. Luckily, the Aztecs have been able to rely on a stout defense, as well. Only two teams have shot over 50% eFG against them on the season. However, they are showing a tendency to put teams on the line. You can expect this game to be a tough defensive battle. The difference may be Alex Kirk‘s ability to grab offensive boards for New Mexico. Points will be tough to come by, so the seven footer has a chance to make a big difference. He has only grabbed one offense rebound in three of his last four games, however. So keep a close eye on how active he is on the inside.
North Carolina at North Carolina State – 7:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- One of these teams could fall three back of Miami with a loss. As mentioned above with the other teams in this situation, it’s not a death sentence, but it certainly isn’t good. NC State will be happy to play at home after dropping their last two road games. UNC is struggling on offense. Many have mentioned that the Tar Heels are turning a corner and will be there at the end of the season, but it’s hard to say that when they just aren’t shooting the ball well at all. They need to find their offense against the Wolfpack because NC State can score the ball. Scoring from James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock is a must to keep this game close. In order to win, they need scoring from other players as well. NC State appears to have too much offense for a Carolina team that has not shown a lot of punch.
#12 Michigan State at #7 Indiana – 1:00 PM EST, Sunday on CBS (****)
- The winner of this game could conceivably take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten (by percentage points). Michigan would have to lose later in the day to Illinois, but it shows how big this game is for both teams. Indiana is off to a 5-1 start in the Big Ten, however their offense has come back to earth. They have seen a rather significant drop in their two-point shooting, going from 54% to 46% inside the arc. Michigan State on the other hand has been allowing teams to make more twos in conference play. You will want to keep a close eye on points in the paint in this match-up. The frontlines of both teams are very talented and very experienced, so it should be a great battle. The question will be who from the Spartans will handle Cody Zeller. At seven feet, he has a significant height advantage over the Spartan forwards. This one will come down to which team can make baskets on the inside and get to the line.
#1 Michigan at Illinois – 6:00 PM EST, Sunday on BTN (***)
- Illinois has lost its last two home games and is in desperation must win mode. After a great start to the season, things seem to be crumbling quickly. Michigan on the other hand has showed focus and patience and is executing the half-court offense better than anyone in the country. Michigan’s balance forces teams to execute their offense to perfection. Illinois needs to find more offense outside of Brandon Paul and create havoc on defense. They have been creating turnovers in conference play at a rate of 21.4%, but they need to do even more. A team in desperation mode is always dangerous, but the Wolverines look to calm and focused to let this one slip away.
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