Set Your DVR: Week of 02.04.13Posted by bmulvihill on February 5th, 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.
With only a month to go in the regular season, the conference pictures are still not 100% clear. Let’s take a look at six match-ups this week that will continue to clear things up as we head towards March. Let’s get to the breakdowns!
#12 Ohio State at #3 Michigan - 9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (****)
- If you break games up into ten minute segments as KenPom does in his box scores, Michigan has only played two poor ten minute segments this season. The first ten minutes against Ohio State and the first ten minutes against Indiana. Both games were on the road in very hostile environments. In their last game in Columbus, Ohio State punched the Wolverines in the mouth in those first ten minutes with tenacious defense. Michigan recovered by limiting mistakes and forcing the Buckeyes to execute their half-court offense, which is virtually nonexistent Don’t expect Michigan to be rattled like they were in Columbus but they still need to be careful with the basketball. If Ohio State wants to win in Ann Arbor, Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott are going to need to be even more disruptive on defense. Also, keep a close eye on Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III for the Wolverines. Stauskas had zero points against the Buckeyes and GRIII was virtually nonexistent in both of Michigan’s losses. If Michigan is going to win the Big Ten and make a deep run in the tournament, these two need to be at their best every night. The addition of those two as scoring threats is what makes Michigan so tough to beat. If the scoring sits squarely on the shoulders of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan becomes much easier to beat.
#21 Minnesota at #6 Michigan State - 7:00 PM EST, Wednesday on BTN (****)
- After four straight losses, the Gophers have steadied a bit with wins against Nebraska and Iowa. They have avoided an Illinois-like tailspin, which is keeping them in the hunt in the Big Ten. Michigan State is sitting one game back of Indiana and is looking to avenge their New Year’s Eve loss to Minnesota. The difference in that game was offensive rebounding, free throws, and 60% two-point shooting from the Gophers. The Spartans are still having a tough time defending the two, so keep a close eye on the interior defense they get from Adreian Payne, Derrick Nix, and Denzel Valentine. These three players need to lead the way for Michigan State, if they want to win this game. In the last meeting, Nix went 5-15, Payne had 4 points, and Valentine had 5 points. All three players need to be more productive for Michigan State to keep pace not only in this game but the rest of the Big Ten season. For Minnesota, they need to stop turning the ball over and play better defense without fouling. Keep a close eye on turnovers and free throws for the Gophers throughout the game. If they can limit both, they can beat Sparty again.
#14 Creighton at Indiana State - 7:00 PM EST, Wednesday on WTWO (***)
- Wichita State’s recent losses may be moving the Missouri Valley Conference closer to a one-bid league. However, Indiana State looks like one of those teams that could make a run in the MVC tourney to steal a bid. While they lost to Creighton on the road in early January, a win at home against the conference leaders would be a huge confidence booster heading into the second half of MVC play. The key to this game will be Indiana State’s interior defense against Greg McDermott and the Bluejays’ frontline. Creighton shoots an unreal 57% from two in conference play. But not to be outdone, the Sycamores are holding teams to 42.7% from two – good for first in the conference. If Indiana State can play solid field goal defense and eliminate second chance points, they can beat the Bluejays. If McDermott and company are allowed to grab their misses, it’ll be lights out for Larry Bird’s alma mater.
Belmont at Murray State - 8:00 PM EST, Thursday on ESPNU (****)
- If you haven’t been keeping track of the Ohio Valley Conference, this game should be a very good match-up between the OVC East leader Belmont and the OVC West leader Murray State. Belmont is currently 10-0 in conference and heading into a stretch of four straight road games. The Bruins have already defeated Eastern Kentucky twice and Tennessee State once. Murray State may be all that stands between Belmont and an undefeated conference season. The guard play between Belmont’s Kerron Johnson and Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan will be prime time basketball. If you haven’t seen these two play, the head-to-head match-up will be exciting. Belmont is shooting a ridiculous 62.1% eFG in conference play this season, while Murray State ranks first int the conference in eFG defense. However, the question will be whether or not Murray State can muster up enough offense to compete with the Belmont shooting. If they want to beat the Bruins, Murray State needs to own the glass, make almost zero mistakes, and find some offense beyond Canaan.
Colorado at #23 Oregon - 10:00 PM EST, Thursday on ESPNU (***)
- Oregon had the Pac-12 by the throat, but a pair of losses last week in the Bay Area have set them back. However, with zero remaining games against UCLA, Arizona, or Arizona State, Oregon is still in a good position to win the conference. At 4-5 in conference, Colorado has been mostly disappointing this season. Expectations may have been too high however for Tad Boyle’s squad. This game has the potential to get sloppy with both teams struggling with turnovers. The key stats in this game will be turnover and free throws. The team that comes out ahead in that battle will have a huge advantage. If Oregon can limit turnovers, get Tony Woods the ball, and get to the line, they will win.
***** – 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