Set Your DVR: Weekend EditionPosted by bmulvihill on February 1st, 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 biggest game of the season thus far is upon us, as the top two teams in the Big Ten collide in what could be an epic battle of offensive efficiency. There are some important match-ups in the other conferences as well that should keep your Super Bowl weekend packed with great sports. Let’s get to the breakdowns!
#1 Michigan at #4 Indiana – 6:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (*****)
- Michigan versus Indiana should be one of the best offensive duels we see in college hoops this season. Both teams have scoring options all over the floor, shoot the lights out from two and three, and have proven to be incredibly efficient all season long. There is very little that separates these two teams on paper. One factor that could play huge role even before the game starts is the availability of Michigan forward Jordan Morgan. Morgan rolled his ankle early in the game against Illinois and sat out against Northwestern on Wednesday. Morgan gives the Wolverines another sneaky offensive threat and size on the inside. He is a key player on the defensive glass, which will be very important for the Wolverines. If Indiana gets too many second chance points, it will be a long night for John Beilein and company. You will also want to keep an eye on the potential match-up between Tim Hardaway Jr. and Victor Oladipo. Oladipo is clearly the Hoosiers most valuable player at this point and is filling up the stat sheet recently. Michigan must find a way to lock down Oladipo. Additionally for Michigan, keep an eye on Jon Horford. Horford has been very solid in the last two games making up for the loss of Morgan. The Wolverines will need Horford to be at the top of his game, if they want to win. Finally, keep a close eye on Michigan’s demeanor early in the game. If you recall, the Wolverines came out rattled and uninspired against Ohio State on the road. Early mistakes put them behind big. If that happens in Bloomington, it’s unlikely Michigan can bounce back against an offense as good as Indiana’s. If Indiana gets off to a fast start, you won’t see the Wolverines panic. However, if the fast start is due to mistakes and uninspired play, it’s curtains. While the offenses will be at center stage in this game, the winner will be the team that plays better defense. Watch perimeter defense closely as both teams are excellent from distance. Whoever is able to defend the perimeter better will win the game.
#5 Syracuse at Pittsburgh – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- Syracuse has not played since they lost to Villanova last Saturday and now they head on the road to play at Pittsburgh. The Panthers have already dropped two home games in Big East play so the Oakland Zoo may not be having the same affect on opponents as it has in years past. Keep an eye on the match-up at point guard between Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams and Pitt’s Tray Woodall. At 6’6″, Carter-Williams has a huge size advantage over the 6’0″ Woodall. Expect the size issue to be a big issue for Woodall all game long. However, Carter-Williams is turning the ball over at a very high rate (almost 25% of his possessions). If Woodall can play pesky defender and stay in front of Carter-Williams, he may be able to create turnovers that get the Panthers out on the break for easy buckets. Since Pitt is not a three-point shooting team, shooting over the Syracuse zone is pretty much off the table. Therefore, they really need 7′ center Steven Adams to have a big impact on this game. It’s asking a lot of Adams as he has not had a double-digit scoring effort since December 19. Adams will also be a critical piece on the defensive end against Syracuse’s length. He needs to protect the rim and own the defensive glass. Unfortunately for Adams, Syracuse may just be too athletic for him to handle. Pitt can win this game if they get on the glass. The Orange has been struggling a bit with its shot in conference play, so if the Panthers can prevent second chance points and grab a few offensive boards on their own, they can keep this one close.
#18 San Diego State at Air Force – 3:00 PM EST, Saturday on Time Warner SportsNet (***)
- San Diego State’s win over New Mexico last weekend bunched things up again in the Mountain West. Both Air Force and SDSU are 4-2 in conference and sit one game behind the Lobos. Air Force has continued to shoot the ball well in conference play, however their problem is with defense. Teams are lighting up the Falcons, particularly from two-point land. While the Aztecs haven’t quite been an offensive juggernaut, they still have a lot of offensive talent in the form of Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley. SDSU, however, has actually been making their mark on defense. If SDSU wants to pick-up another win on the road, their defense will be the answer again. The same is probably true for the Falcons. While their offense leads the way, scoring against the Aztecs will not be easy. Air Force needs to make some stops of their own to keep pace in the MW.
#13 Miami at #16 North Carolina State – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on CBS (****)
- Miami has clearly separated itself from the field in the ACC. North Carolina State, on the other hand, is on the verge of falling into mediocrity if they don’t get a win on Saturday. The Hurricane defense has be smothering. In ACC play, they have held teams to an eFG of 40.7%, mostly on the strength of their interior defense. 6’10” Kenny Kadji and 6’11” Reggie Johnson are only allowing teams in the ACC to make 38.6% of their two-point attempts. While NC State has a very athletic frontline, the key in this game may be their ability to knock down threes. The Wolfpack is hitting 41.2% of its threes in conference play, so they are very capable. However, if they get cold from deep, we could see Miami go on a run like they did against Duke. Interestingly enough, the Hurricanes have the top offensive eFG% in the conference also. So they aren’t just all defense. If NC State wants to win this game they need to do it on defense. Scoring will not be easy, so they need to get stops. The Wolfpack has a strong perimeter defense, so you can expect the Canes to pound it down low.
Oklahoma State at #2 Kansas – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on Big 12 Network (***)
- Eventually Kansas has to lose at home. Early on in the season, it looked like Oklahoma State was the only team that may be able to give the Jayhawks a run at the Big 12 title. Things have change a bit but the Pokes still have talent. Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash will not make it easy for Kansas. If Kansas is going to drop a game, it’s going to be because of turnovers. The Cowboys need to put pressure on the ball, particularly when Elijah Johnson is handling. If they can create turnovers and get this game going up and down, they have a shot at winning. If the Jayhawks limit their mistakes and force Oklahoma State to beat their half court defense, it’s tough to see the Cowboys pulling off the upset.
Marquette at #8 Louisville – 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- It’s interesting how one team can be at the top of the Big East and still not get much respect, while the other had a three game losing streak and still be considered a title contender. That’s the situation for Marquette and Louisville respectively among the poll voters. As with any team that plays Louisville, Marquette needs to limit turnovers. In Big East play, the Golden Eagles have not been making mistakes, only turning the ball over on 16.7% of their possessions. However, point guard Junior Cadougan is turning it over at rate of 24.3%. He needs to be extremely cautious with the ball, as the Cardinals will be gunning for him. Since both teams stay away from the three-point shot, this game will be won in the paint. Louisville would love to get the production out of Gorgui Dieng that they got against Pitt last weekend. It won’t be easy though because Marquette has had the best interior defense in the Big East so far this season. This will be another tough game for Louisville. If they aren’t shooting well and you see Marquette getting to the line, the Golden Eagles can pull the upset.
***** – 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