Set Your DVR: Week of 02.19.13Posted by bmulvihill on February 19th, 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.
We are in the final stretch before conference tournaments tip off and there are several key match-ups this week that will help to determine not only postseason seeds but regular season titles. Let’s not waste any time and get to the breakdowns!
Indiana at Michigan State - 7:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (*****)
- It doesn’t get any bigger than this game this week, as the Hoosiers and the Spartans battle for sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. Michigan State faces a gauntlet of games as it goes up against Indiana at home, Ohio State and Michigan on the road, and then back home against Wisconsin. It is highly unlikely that they will get through the next four unscathed, so this first game at home is crucial if they want to win a regular season Big Ten crown. In the teams’ previous game this season, IU defeated MSU 75-70 in Bloomington. Tom Izzo’s squad turned the ball over too many times, couldn’t hit their two-point shots, and didn’t get to the free throw line enough. Since then, the Spartans have won five straight and are looking better and better each game. They are being led by point guard Keith Appling. Appling is averaging 16.4 points per game in their current five-game winning streak, since going 1-of-4 with three points in the loss to IU. Appling will once again be a key factor as the Spartans will need his scoring and play-making abilities. Izzo will also need his defense to figure out a way to stop Indiana’s Victor Olidipo. Olidipo torched the Spartans last time out for 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting. If Indiana is allowed to go 19-of-32 again from inside the paint, Michigan State will struggle to find a way to win. The Spartans need a better defensive effort on the interior and better rebounding if they are going to overtake the Hoosiers for the Big Ten lead.
Virginia at Miami (FL) - 9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPNU (****)
- While Miami remains undefeated in the ACC and is aiming for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tourney, they face two tough tests the remainder of the season against Virginia at home and against Duke on the road. The Cavaliers have been anything but road warriors in the ACC (2-4), but they present a tough match-up because of their ability to shoot the ball, especially from three. Keep a close on Virginia’s Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell. If they are to knock off the Hurricanes, these two players must have very big games. If UVA is still without 6’11″ Mike Tobey (mononucleosis), scoring on the interior will be tough against Miami’s 6’11″ Kenny Kadji and 6’10″ Reggie Johnson. The three-point shot is a significant part of the Cavaliers’ offense, so pay close attention to their effort early from beyond the arc. If they can stay in the game with some made threes, they will have a shot to win it in the end. However, the Hurricanes play lockdown perimeter defense too. This is a tall task for the Cavaliers, but it will still be an interesting match-up nonetheless.
Virginia Commonwealth at Saint Louis – 9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on CBS Sports (*****)
- Virginia Commonwealth and Saint Louis are currently ranked first and second in the Atlantic 10 standings. The Rams have won five in a row while the Billikens have won seven in a row. VCU brings the top offense in the conference into the game while SLU brings the top defense into the game. Needless to say, this should be a spectacular offering. The Rams are causing an incredible amount of turnovers in A-10 play. Teams are coughing the ball up on almost 28% of their possessions which makes it very difficult for their opponents to get any kind of offense going. VCU is also converting those turnovers into points as they are shooting 52.7% from inside the arc. The question will be if they can shoot the same against a stout defense like the Billikens. If SLU can protect the ball and prevent second chance opportunities they can win this game with their defense. However, if the Rams are causing all sorts of havoc and creating a high number of turnovers, Shaka Smart’s squad will stay atop the A-10 for the time being.
Kansas at Oklahoma State - 9:00 PM EST, Wednesday on ESPN2 (****)
- I’m not one to hold revenge as a determining factor in a game, but you better believe Bill Self is reminding his players that Oklahoma State went into Lawrence and ended KU’s long home winning streak not too long ago. The folks at Kansas take that seriously and it will be a big factor in this game. However, outside of notions of vindication, the Jayhawks need to get in the paint and hit their two-point shots if they want to win. They were 16-of-41 from inside the arc last time out against the Cowboys and it cost them the game. Ben McLemore and Elijah Johnson need to make things happen by taking the ball to the hoop. Oklahoma State, however, has the athletes and size to stop these guys in the form of Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash, and Markel Brown. Smart and Brown both went for 20+ points last time out and played great defense inside the arc. Keep an eye on both players again, as they match up very well with the Jayhawks’ size. Look for KU to establish Jeff Withey early. While the Cowboys have an answer for the KU size at guard/forward, they do not have an answer for the big man under the basket. He must assert himself on offense early and create room for the KU guards to slash to the basket.
Colorado State at UNLV – 10:00 PM EST, Wednesday on CBS Sports (****)
- UNLV has been tough to figure out this season. However, one thing that we do know is that the Thomas & Mack Center is a tough place to play and they are defending their home turf ferociously. They have been able to take down both New Mexico and SDSU in their last two home games to keep their hopes alive in the MW. Colorado State is currently riding a six-game winning streak and looking to join the Lobos at the top of the league. The battle in the paint between CSU’s Colton Iverson and UNLV’s Anthony Bennett should be prime time basketball. However, if Vegas wants to win this game, they are going to need offensive contributions from others besides Bennett. They have been unable to get consistent performances from the rest of the squad which is why they are 6-5 in MW play. The Rams are the top rebounding team in the conference on both ends. With the Rebels not at full strength inside, it won’t be easy for them to keep CSU from getting second chance points. If the Rams are getting too many second looks, it will be curtains for the Rebels. However, we have seen them pull off big wins at home, so don’t count them out yet.
***** – 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