Set Your DVR: Weekend EditionPosted by bmulvihill on February 8th, 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.
Bubble watching has officially begun, which means March is just around the corner. With less than a month to go in the season, everything is still up for grabs in what has been a truly unpredictable season in college hoops. The Big Ten and Big East lead a solid slate of games this weekend. With epic snow hitting the east coast, it looks like most people will have to sit at home and watch hoops. Sounds great to most of us, I’d assume. Let’s get to the breakdowns!
#1 Michigan at Wisconsin – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- On a per possession basis, we will see the best offense (Michigan) in the Big Ten versus the best defense (Wisconsin) in the Big Ten in this game. Michigan’s poor two-point shooting against Ohio State was very out of character for John Beilein’s squad. Fortunately for the Wolverines, their three-point shooting was able to carry them to a victory. Michigan went 14-24 from deep against the Buckeyes. Don’t expect Michigan to have the same success from outside against Wisconsin, as the Badgers have the best three-point defense in the conference. Watch to see if UM can bounce back inside the arc. When Michigan’s Mitch McGary is in the game, the match-up between him and Jared Berggren should be fun to watch on the inside and a key factor in the outcome. McGary is coming into his own and will be needed down low for second chance points. Expect this game to be a slow, mistake free contest. Execution of the half-court offense will be critical for both sides. The Wolverines definitely have the advantage there. Wisconsin needs to force Michigan to make tough shots. If Michigan is able to get open looks in the half-court, it will be along afternoon for the Badgers.
#2 Kansas at Oklahoma – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (***)
- Just when it looked like Kansas was going to run away and hide with the Big 12 title, Jayhawk Nation got shell shocked with two consecutive losses. Not only did they lose twice, but they lost at home and then against TCU, the only team in the conference without a win. Many are calling the TCU loss the worst in Kansas history. While that may be an overstatement, Bill Self certainly has to be concerned with his team’s effort as of late. The two losses are character tests for the Jayhawks, which is what makes this road game against Oklahoma so important. It’s not all roses for Lon Kruger and the Sooners, however. They are in the midst of their own two-game slide. Oklahoma has been up and down this season and could use a big win at home to boost their tourney chances. KU has been shooting awful in the past two games, particularly from three. They are 11-46 from downtown in that stretch. Look to see if the Jayhawks try to get in the lane more often with their big guards. Given Oklahoma’s mediocrity on offense and defense, this looks like it could be a bounce back game for KU. But given what we’ve seen so far in college hoops, nothing is for sure.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati – 6:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (***)
- While Pittsburgh has won six of its last seven games, Cincinnati is struggling to be consistent in Big East play. Their recent loss to Providence is indicative of their inability to sustain momentum. Poor three-point shooting is killing the Bearcats. 42% of their field goal attempts are coming from downtown, while only 30% are going in. Cincinnati has only shot over 50% eFG twice in Big East play. In the last game between these two teams, the Bearcats won the game at the free throw line. Keep a close eye on free throws again, as it could be the difference. Also, offensive rebounding proved to be crucial. Pitt needs to get on the boards and grab the Bearcat misses. If they can do that, Cincy is in big trouble given their shooting troubles. The Bearcats simply need to make more shots. If not, they will start to fade away in the Big East.
#8 Louisville at Notre Dame – 9:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- Notre Dame has been able to keep its head above water in the Big East with good offense. It’s defense however isn’t doing them any favors, as teams are shooting 51.3% eFG in Big East play. That’s a lot of pressure to put on your offense, especially against a team like Louisville. Scoring will not be easy against the Cardinals defense. ND is 2-5 when they shoot under 50% eFG. In order to go over 50% against the Cardinals, the Irish cannot turn the ball over. They must slow the game down, limit mistakes, and execute in the half-court. Keep a close eye on the guard match-ups. Louisville’s Russ Smith and Peyton Siva against ND’s Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins should be fun to watch. Look to see if the size of the ND guards makes a difference on both ends of the court.
#21 New Mexico at UNLV – 9:00 PM EST, Saturday on NBC Sports (***)
- UNLV is struggling this season and sits at 4-4 in the Mountain West Conference. Forward Mike Moser has not been the same player since dislocating his right elbow. Moser has been in single digits for scoring in six straight games. He was scoreless against Fresno State and only played nine minutes against Boise State. While Anthony Bennett has been doing an amazing job carrying the team, there is only so much he can do. Since New Mexico’s embarrassing loss to San Diego State, the Lobos have picked things up on offense and won three straight. Without a healthy Moser, scoring is going to be extremely tough for the Rebels. The question will be where the offense will come from beyond Bennett. If UNLV wants to win this game, they are going to have to own the boards and find more offense. It could be tough against the likes of Tony Snell and Alex Kirk on the interior.
#4 Indiana at #12 Ohio State – 1:00 PM EST, Saturday on CBS (****)
- It seems like every Big Ten game this season is amazing and this contest should be no different. There will be a ton of great athletes to watch, none better than Victor Oladipo on Indiana and DeShaun Thomas on Ohio State. While the Indiana offense and the Ohio State defense will take center stage, keep a close eye on free throws. The Hoosiers get to the line a lot while OSU plays great defense without fouling. If the Buckeyes can continue to do that and shoot the two-point shot like they did against Michigan, they can win against Indiana at home. Look for the Hoosiers to test the Buckeyes interior defense with a big dose of Cody Zeller. Putting the ball in his hands will put a lot of pressure on the Ohio State bigs which may force the guards to double team. If that happens, it’ll open up the outside shot for the Hoosiers and it could be bombs away.
***** – 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