Ten Questions to Consider: Hall of Fame Classic Tips Off Weekend Action

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on December 8th, 2017

The best way to start a weekend of college basketball is by having a quality triple-header on Friday night, and the Hall of Fame Classic in Los Angeles will deliver that to us.

Trae Young Headlines a Strong Group of Teams in Los Angeles Tonight

  1. Which will prevail — good offense or good defense? The Hall of Fame Classic begins this evening with a match-up between St. John’s and Arizona State. Arizona State is ranked among the top 20 nationally in offensive efficiency, three-point percentage, and two-point percentage, while St. John’s ranks among the top 20 in effective field-goal defense, turnover, block and steal rates. In their one loss, the Red Storm allowed Missouri to shoot 51 percent from distance and gave up 26 free throws.
  2. Can USC end its losing streak? The second game from the Staples Center tonight features a pair of interesting teams in Oklahoma and USC. After starting the season 4-0, USC has dropped its last two games. One area that has let the Trojans down is fairly simple — shooting the ball. In its first four games, USC shot 41 percent from beyond the arc; in losses to Texas A&M and SMU, USC shot just 27 percent from distance. If the Trojans fail to get a win tonight against Oklahoma, USC’s resume will be devoid of a quality non-conference win.
  3. How will TCU fare with the late tip-off time? Not only does TCU have to prepare for a talented and undefeated Nevada squad, but the tip-off time back home in Fort Worth will be midnight. While TCU has held three opponents to under 30 percent three-point shooting this season, the Horned Frogs tonight face Nevada’s Caleb Martin and Kendall Stephens, a pair of 6’7″ forwards who are each shooting better than 44 percent in high-volume three-point attempts.
  4. Which freshman guard takes control in the UCLA/Michigan matchup? Last season, UCLA beat Michigan 102-84 in a game that KenPom reported as having just 64 possessions. This year, the match-up between Bruins and Wolverines could come come down simply to which team wins the point-guard matchup between freshmen Jaylen Hands and Eli Brooks. The free throw line also has some potential to play a key role in this game — both teams rank among the bottom 100 nationally in free throw percentage on the season.
  5. Which Florida team shows up against Cincinnati? Since blowing a 10-point lead in the final five minutes against Duke, Florida has suffered disappointing consecutive home losses to Florida State and Loyola-Chicago. What has gone wrong for the Gators? It’s simple — Florida shot just 8-of-46 (17.4%) on three-pointers in those two games. A neutral site match-up against a Cincinnati team that has held three opponents to under 30 percent shooting from three-point range probably isn’t the best way to get the shooters humming again.
  6. Will Minnesota’s size be too much for Arkansas? As a sophomore last season, Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy logged 12 double-doubles. Through 10 games this season, Murphy leads the nation in double-dobules with, you guessed it, 10. Murphy, along with 6’8″ Amir Coffey and 6’10” Reggie Lynch could pose real trouble for an Arkansas team that relies heavily on its trio of guards Anton Beard, Daryl Macon, and Jaylen Barford.
  7. Will the McKale Center be the difference maker in Alabama/Arizona? Coming off of a close neutral court win over Texas A&M, Arizona returns home to the McKale Center where they have not lost yet this season. On the other side, this will be Alabama’s first true road game. The Tide are ranked among the top 10 in free throw rate, but will they be able to get to the line at the same rate in Arizona? Finding free points while putting Arizona in foul trouble could be what Alabama needs to eke out a win on the road.
  8. Which team improves their non-conference resume: Indiana or Louisville? Both Indiana and Louisville come into this weekend’s game without a win against a KenPom top 100 team. After this game, Indiana has only one more non-conference game against a KenPom top 100 team (Notre Dame) while Louisville has two (Albany and Kentucky).
  9. How can Arizona State make Kansas 0-2 against the Pac-12 this week? In its mid-week loss to Washington, Kansas attempted just eight free throws. On the season, Kansas ranks among the bottom 10 nationally in free throw attempts while Arizona State leads the nation in free throw rate (55.9%).  If Arizona State can get to the line and have its trio of Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice continue to knock down three-pointers at a 40+% rate, the Sun Devils could find themselves on top of Kansas at the end of the game.
  10. Will Gonzaga continue its dominance over Washington? Gonzaga has won three straight and 10 of its last 11 games against Washington. The Bulldogs have won nine of those games by 10 or more points. While Gonzaga should be able to score on Washington, a key component could be its defense. In their loss to Villanova, Gonzaga gave up 48 points to the pair of Mikal Bridges and Phil Booth. Washington’s Jaylen Nowell and Matisse Thybulle combined for 36 points in their recent win over Kansas.
Matthew Eisenberg (36 Posts)

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