Set Your DVR: Weekend EditionPosted by bmulvihill on March 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.
This weekend has several important conference re-matches and as well as first time clashes between conference leaders. It should be an action packed weekend. Let’s get to the breakdowns!
#10 Louisville at #11 Syracuse – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on CBS (*****)
- Syracuse has lost two straight and five of their last nine. They have been inconsistent on offensive, particularly from the outside. They go up against a Louisville squad that is no stranger to struggles this season either. The Cardinals hit a three-game slide at the end of January that had a few folks questioning where this team was headed. Since that time though, they are 7-1 and only one game back in the Big East. Syracuse beat Louisville 70-68 in January in a close contest that came down to the final possession. The Cardinals have clearly struggled against long, athletic teams. Asking 6’0″ Russ Smith and 6’0″ Peyton Siva to guard 6″6″ Michael Carter-Williams and 6’4″ Brandon Triche is a tall order to say the least. Look for the Orange to exploit the mismatch at guard all night. Rick Pitino must game plan to help his guards, otherwise it could be another tough one for Louisville. The Cardinals also need Gorgui Dieng to contribute more on the offensive end. His size will help free up Smith and Siva on the outside. Expect another close battle at the Carrier Dome as these two teams battle for conference and tournament seeding.
#20 Butler at Virginia Commonwealth – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN2 (****)
- While Butler has amazing wins against Indiana and Gonzaga, they have struggled against the top Atlantic 10 teams. They are 0-3 against Saint Louis and LaSalle and now face VCU for the first time this season. VCU is also winless against Saint Louis and LaSalle, so Butler is not alone in their struggles. The key to this match-up will be turnovers. VCU creates turnovers on 27.3% of an opponents possessions. Butler turns the ball over on 20% of its offensive possessions. The Bulldogs cannot afford to empty possession in this game, otherwise they will lose. They must get into the half-court offense and establish 6’11″ Andrew Smith early. Smith’s match-up against VCU’s Juvante Reddic will be critical. Butler needs Smith’s offense to win this game.
#22 Notre Dame at #19 Marquette – 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- Marquette is still undefeated at home this season and hosts a big game against Notre Dame this weekend. The Golden Eagles can stay in the hunt for a Big East title with a win against the Irish. Marquette protects the basketball, they are a tough team to beat because of their excellent two-point shooting and their ability to get to the free throw line. Luckily for Buzz Williams and company, Notre Dame’s defense creates very few turnovers and is 13th in the Big East in two-point field goal defense. While guard play will be important in this match-up, the game will be decided down low between Davante Gardner and Jack Cooley. Gardner is coming off a career game against Syracuse where he went 7-7 from the field and 12-13 from the free throw line. If Cooley can get it going on the inside, it will open up the deep ball for the Irish. With Marquette’s weak three-point defense, keep a close eye on Notre Dame’s ability to get good looks from downtown.
#6 Miami at #4 Duke – 6:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (*****)
- We all know what happened the last time these two teams met. Duke got run out of Coral Gables by a Miami team on its way to a 13-0 start to the ACC season. When you look back at the scoring in the game, Duke really only played one really bad ten minute segment of the game. However, Seth Curry did go scoreless and Miami owned the defensive boards. Duke was ice cold from the field as well going 18-51 from two and 4-23 from three. While a change of venue will go a long way, this will be another tough game for Duke. Miami’s size on the interior will still present problems for the Blue Devils as they are still without Ryan Kelly. Also, keep an eye on three-point shooting in this one. Both teams launched a lot of deep balls in the first match-up. Keep a close eye on Curry in particular. Don’t expect him to go scoreless again. If he bounce back and put in 20+ points, Duke will win this one at Cameron Indoor.
UCLA at Arizona – 9:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)
- UCLA controlled the first match-up with Arizona this season from tip to buzzer and they did it with defense. In fact, UCLA is all about defense. If a team shoots over 50% eFG against the Bruins, they are 3-7. They simply do not have the offense to outscore teams. Arizona has an efficient offense run by one of the better point guards in the country, Mark Lyons. However, watch the Wildcats from deep. They were only 5-24 in the first game against UCLA and the Bruins maintain the top three-point field goal defense in the conference. Lyons was 2-7 the last time out, so see if he can get his team going from deep. Arizona inexplicably lost to USC on Wednesday, so look for Sean Miller to have his team ready to play in this game. Back to back losses for the Wildcats at this point in the season would be damaging to their NCAA seeding.
#8 Michigan State at #2 Michigan – 4:00 PM EST, Sunday on CBS (*****)
- Michigan capped off a bad February with a loss to previously winless-in-conference Penn State on Wednesday. The Wolverines squandered an opportunity to pull within one game of Indiana for the Big Ten lead and now sits two games back with only three to play. Michigan State also limps into this contest with back to back losses against Indiana and Ohio State. The Spartans hammered the Wolverines at the Breslin Center not too long ago, so pay back will certainly be in the air in Ann Arbor. Michigan never led and were down by 31 at one point. Michigan’s defense was torched from two-point land and is showing signs of severe weakness over the last month of the season. With Jordan Morgan back to playing his normal minutes, however, Michigan will get some much needed help on the inside. With the Spartans taking it to Michigan inside the arc last time, look to see if John Beilein plays more zone this time around. Don’t expect this one to be a blowout, but if Michigan’s defense doesn’t get its act together, it could be lights out again for the Maize and Blue.
***** – 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