Set Your DVR: Week Of 02.11.13Posted by bmulvihill on February 11th, 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.
If we’ve learned anything so far this season, the rest of the season will be anything but predictable. Almost every conference is still up for grabs, so we are in for an exciting few weeks as we head towards March. The games this week provide us several battles at the top of each conference that will go a long way in determining who will stand alone at the end of the regular season. Let’s get to the breakdowns!
#18 Marquette at #16 Georgetown - 7:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)
- Six teams still have a legitimate shot at winning the Big East regular season title. Marquette currently sits on top of the standings with Syracuse and Georgetown only one game back. In their previous match-up this season, the Golden Eagles outlasted the Hoyas 49-48 on the strength of their rebounding and free throw shooting. The game was anything but pretty. While shooting was poor on both sides for that contest, the Hoyas have significantly improved their shooting during their current five game win streak. If Georgetown can combine better shooting with a defense that is holding Big East opponents to 42.3% eFG, they become a very difficult team to beat. The Golden Eagles have been living inside the three-point line. They are first in the Big East in two-point field goal percentage at 51.8%. The Hoyas length bothered Buzz Williams’ squad last time out so keep a close eye on how they are shooting on the road this time. However, because Marquette was steadfast in getting into the paint, they got fouled and went to the line. That was the difference in the game. If the Hoyas can play good defense without fouling and hit the boards, they can win the rematch in D.C.
#14 Kansas State at #13 Kansas - 9:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)
- Kansas was going to eventually lose at home. However, three straight losses and a game behind Kansas State in the Big 12 standings seemed pretty far-fetched even just 10 days ago. This is a big game for the Jayhawks as they look to tie Kansas State at the top of the Big 12 and avoid back-to-back home losses. Kansas stopped the Wildcats 59-55 in Manhattan a few weeks ago by locking down the interior on defense and preventing second-chance points. In their most recent loss to Oklahoma, the Jayhawks improved their two-point shooting considerably over the last several games hitting 51% of their attempts inside the arc. Look for Bill Self’s squad to continue to take the ball into the paint where they have a size advantage. For Kansas State to win, they need to hit the three-ball. Kansas has shown vulnerability to the three and the Wildcats must take advantage if they want to build on their lead in the Big 12.
Kentucky at #5 Florida - 7:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (****)
- Kentucky has won five straight games and is only one game behind Florida for the SEC lead. It seemed like Florida was going to run away with the SEC this year, but a loss to Arkansas and the winning streak by Kentucky has made things a bit more interesting. It’s not too often you get to see 6’10″ forwards with exceptional perimeter games. This game has two – Kentucky’s Kyle Wiljter and Florida’s Erik Murphy. Keep a close eye on both of them throughout the night, as they will do things that players their size are not supposed to do. Their play will certainly be a key factor in the outcome of the game. But the real key will be Kentucky’s defense, particularly against the Florida guards. The Gators offense is potent and experienced. The question will be whether or not the Kentucky length can bother Florida enough to give them a chance to win the game. If this game is close, free throws will be extremely important. Both teams shoot below 70% from the line, so it could be an adventure down the stretch if it becomes a battle at the stripe.
#2 Michigan at #6 Michigan State - 9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (****)
- Michigan is in the final game of a treacherous four-game stretch against Indiana, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and now Michigan State. While the Wolverines have lost two of the first three games thus far, they are a bad 10 minutes and a miracle three from winning all three games. As it is though, Michigan is in need of a good road win and now heads to the Breslin Center for a tough test against the Spartans. A disturbing trend has developed at Michigan where Glenn Robinson III seems to completely disappear during tough road games. Nik Stauskas is dangerously close to being a part of that trend as well. We could blame it on being a freshman, but freshman Mitch McGary has actually shined as of late when faced with the tough tests. Either way, if Michigan is going to win at Michigan State, they must get significant contribution from both Robinson and Stauskas. If they don’t, they will definitely lose. Keep a close eye on the match-up between Trey Burke and Keith Appling though. The winner of this battle will give his team a significant edge. Also, watch the battle on the boards. Michigan must not allow Michigan State to get second chance points. McGary has been excellent on the glass, but without Jordan Morgan the Wolverines are not at full strength underneath. If he is out again, look for the Spartans to take advantage.
North Carolina at #4 Duke - 9:00 PM EST, Wednesday on ESPN (****)
- Duke-North Carolina is always a marquee match-up, however there isn’t much that tells us that UNC can win this game at Cameron Indoor. The Tar Heels have not demonstrated an offense that can keep up with the Blue Devils thus far this season. If they want to keep this game close, they will have to rely on their defense, particularly on the perimeter. Keep a close eye on James Michael McAdoo for UNC. If he is match-up with Mason Plumlee on defense, it will be interesting to see if he has enough energy to get it done on the offensive end as well. UNC will also need everything it can get from Reggie Bullock. His size and offensive ability are hugely important in this contest. This game is always a battle regardless, but don’t be surprised if the Blue Devils run away with it.
#21 San Diego State at #23 Colorado State - 10:00 PM EST, Wednesday on CBS Sports Network (****)
- Both of these teams are looking to capitalize on New Mexico’s loss to UNLV this weekend. In their previous match-up this season, San Diego State outlasted Colorado State 79-71 in OT on the back of 13 made three-pointers. The Aztecs had an 18-point lead at halftime but squandered the lead because they got crushed on the boards, particularly the offensive glass. If the Aztecs want to win this one on the road, they must figure out a way to box out the Rams players. Also, look for San Diego State to improve on their 11-33 performance from two. This should be another close contest. If the Rams own the glass again, it will be very difficult for San Diego State to win this one on the road considering Colorado State is undefeated at home.
#8 Gonzaga at St. Mary’s - 11:00 PM EST, Thursday on ESPN2 (****)
- Once again we are looking at a battle between Gonzaga and St. Mary’s at the top of the West Coast Conference. In their first game this season, St. Mary’s was done in by missed three’s (7-27) and missed free throws (15-23). In a game that was only 83-78, one more three and a few free throws would have made the difference. It was not surprising though that both teams hit more than 60% of their two-point attempts. We can expect more of the same in this game. The Gaels are almost looking at a must win game. Dropping two games behind the Zags with only five games to play will be a very difficult challenge to overcome. The questions for St. Mary’s is how to stop Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris. Olynyk lit up the Gaels for 31 last time out. They must find a strategy to stop those two and force the guards to beat them. If they can do that, make free throws, and reduce their three-point attempts, they will be tied at the top of the WCC.
***** – 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