Set Your DVR: Week of 03.04.13Posted by bmulvihill on March 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.
For some teams, the Championship Fortnight (as Kyle Whelliston would call it) begins this week. For most others, this is the final week of the regular season. Many teams sit squarely on the bubble and need to impress in their final two contests to show they deserve to be in the Tourney. We’ve waited all year for March. It’s finally here and all indications tell us it’s going to be a wild month. Let’s get to the breakdowns!
Illinois at Iowa - 7:00 PM EST, Tuesday on BTN (***)
- This is a hugely important game for both teams. At 7-9 in the Big Ten, Iowa is need of two wins to make its case for an at large tournament bid. They close the regular season at home against Illinois and Nebraska. If they can pick up the two victories and get to .500 in conference, Fran McCaffery and company make a decent case to get in. For Illinois, it looks like they will get in however they can ill afford to drop their next two games. In addition to this game at Iowa, they must travel too Ohio State. A loss against the Hawkeyes puts a ton of pressure on John Groce’s team heading into the last game of the season, so this one is critical. Look to see if Iowa’s size bothers the Illini. Illinois is a much better two-point shooting team than they are at three-point shooting team. However, getting points inside against Iowa’s length could be tough to come by. Regardless, Brandon Paul, Tracy Abrams, and D.J. Richardson must be aggressive in taking the ball to the basket and trying to get to the line. If Illinois is settling for jumpers on the outside, they will lose. Iowa needs to win this game with defense. Their offense just isn’t strong enough to win it for them. Protecting the ball and playing good defense without fouling are their top priorities. If they are turning the ball over and fouling, Illinois will win. The team that wins the free throw battle should come out on top in this match-up.
#13 Ohio State at #1 Indiana - 9:00 PM EST, Tuesday on ESPN (****)
- In the first match-up this season between these two squads, Ohio State had no answer for Cody Zeller and Victor Olidipo. They combined to go 16-of-21 from the field and 17-of-21 from the line, grabbed 16 rebounds, and scored 50 of the 81 points. Throw in Christian Watford’s 20 points and IU’s front line obliterated OSU. If the Buckeyes want any chance to win this game in Bloomington, they must get way better defense from Evan Ravenel, Amir Williams, DeShaun Thomas, and LaQuinton Ross. Offensively, they can’t run with Indiana, however OSU’s half-court offense is suspect at best. So while their defense must create turnovers and get out on the break, they must be careful not to turn this game into a track meet. OSU’s ability to win this game sits squarely on the shoulders of their frontline. They need better defense and more scoring. If they can get that, they have a chance to win. Otherwise, this could be a blowout.
Boise State at UNLV - 10:00 PM EST, Tuesday on Time Warner Sportsnet (****)
- With Mike Moser’s minutes and production finally getting back to normal, the Rebels have put together an impressive four game win steak and could be a sleeper in the tourney. They are undefeated at home this year with two more to play at Thomas & Mack Center to close the season. On the other side, Boise State has managed to put together a four game winning streak of their own and put themselves back in the conversation for an at-large bid. Wins against UNLV and San Diego State to close the season would seal it for the Broncos. 1-1 in the final two may do it also. However, if they drop the next two, their bid is certainly in jeopardy. BSU beat Vegas in early February in impressive fashion. While the game was played fairly evenly, the Broncos led throughout. The major difference in that game and this game is Moser. He only played 9 minutes in the first game. His minutes have steadily increased and was up to 20 minutes in his last game. Moser makes the Rebels a completely different team. He and Anthony Bennett could be the best front court in the nation when both are healthy. If the Rebels can continue to play strong defense, protect the ball, and grab rebounds, they will not only win this game, but could make a bunch of noise in a few weeks.
#8 Georgetown at Villanova - 7:00 PM EST, Wednesday on ESPN2 (****)
- Georgetown has won 11 games in a row and has put itself in a position for a possible number one seed in the Tournament. The Hoyas have two games to go – on the road at Villanova and back home against Syracuse. If they can hold off Louisville for the regular season Big East crown, that may be enough to get them a top seed in the Big Dance. Villanova on the other hand is a stretch bubble team for most folks. Back-to-back losses in their last two games has put them on the outside looking in. However, if they can beat the Hoyas and then make a run in the Big East Tournament, they may be able to put themselves back in the picture for a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Both of these teams need to watch the turnovers. Each team turns the ball over on more than 20% of their possessions in Big East play. Watch the turnover over numbers, particularly for Villanova. Georgetown has the defense to bounce back from a turnover. The Wildcats, on the other hand, cannot afford to get sloppy. If Nova can limit the Hoyas to one shot and protect the ball, they can stay in this game by being aggressive on offense and getting to the line. Since they are able to match Georgetown’s size, they should not be scared to take the ball to the hole. However, if the Hoyas play their typical solid defense and Otto Porter does his thing, they should come out on top.
#14 Oklahoma State at Iowa State - 7:00 PM EST, Wednesday on ESPNU (****)
- These two teams played a tight game in Stillwater at the end of January. Oklahoma State came out on top 78-76 after being down by 11 at one point in the second half and still down by 4 with less than two minutes to go. The Cowboys did their damage inside the arc while ISU was deadly from three. The difference ended up being free throws and turnovers. Expect more of the same offensive game from each side. The Cyclones shoot 41% of their field goal attempts from downtown. With Oklahoma State’s perimeter defense being less than stellar, look to see if ISU pours it on from deep early at home. Cowboys Le’Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart need to be aggressive and use their size on defense to prevent too many threes. This should be another close game in Ames.
#16 Wisconsin at #8 Michigan State - 9:00 PM EST, Thursday on ESPN (****)
- After suffering three straight losses, Michigan State is in need of a good win. They were able to beat Wisconsin in January in an ugly, slugfest in Madison. Neither team could shoot the ball. MSU’s Brandon Dawson and Keith Appling are the only two players that were able to make shots and it proved to be the difference. The Badgers shot 27 threes and only made eight. Look to see if Wisconsin goes inside to Jared Berggren more as the Spartans struggle with two-point defense. With Keith Appling struggling to make shots for Michigan State, Gary Harris and Travis Trice need to pick up the slack. You can expect another grinding, tightly contested match-up. The difference in this one will probably be second chance points, hustle plays, and defensive toughness.
***** – 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