Ten Questions to Consider: Super Bowl Weekend (College Hoops Version)

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on February 2nd, 2018

While college basketball will take a backseat to the Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, there is plenty of action on the hardwood before then. Here are ten questions I have for this weekend.

Rhode Island is Quietly Rising, But How Good Are the Rams? (USA Today Images)

  1. Is Rhode Island THAT GOOD or is the Atlantic 10 THAT BAD? Rhode Island sits at 10-0 in conference play with a three-game lead over VCU, Davidson and Richmond. With its next three games against that trio, Rhode Island could have the regular season crown wrapped up by mid-February. Only three Atlantic 10 teams own a KenPom top 100 ranking this season, a far cry from the past five seasons when the conference has averaged 7.4 teams among the top 100.
  2. Will Texas Tech stay within reach of Kansas? Only one game behind Kansas in the Big 12 standings, Texas Tech faces a crucial road test at TCU on Saturday. In two of its three conference losses, Texas Tech has been unable to force turnovers at its season rate of 23.7 percent, which ranks among the top 10 nationally. The Red Raiders will match up against a TCU offense that has the lowest turnover rate in conference play.
  3. Which Los Angeles team steps up in the crosstown battle?  While USC has its eyes on the Pac-12 title (one game behind Arizona), UCLA is looking to make its seat on the bubble a little more comfortable. An area to watch in this game is the three-point line, where over its last five games UCLA is shooting 33-of-111 (29.7%) and allowing its opponents to shoot 41-of-87 (47.1.%).
  4. How can West Virginia get back on track? West Virginia has lost four of its last five games, with troubling second half collapses marking three of those losses. While the Mountaineers rank second in the Big 12 in forced turnovers, they are doing so at a rate of only 21.7 percent compared with their 25.4% season average. For a team with an effective field-goal percentage below the national average, this relative lack of turnovers created is hurting West Virginia on both ends of the court.
  5. Will Arizona get caught looking ahead to UCLA & USC? After a 28-point win against Washington State earlier this week, Arizona must travel to Seattle to battle a Washington team looking for another signature win. While Arizona has the top effective field goal and three-point percentage offense in conference play, the Huskies rank at the top defensively in both of those categories.
  6. Just how dominant is Saint Mary’s Jock Landale? In the 15 years KenPom has tracked individual statistics, only one player used in 28 percent or more of his team’s possessions has posted a higher offensive rating than Jock Landale this year. Landale is coming off of a season low six points on just four shot attempts against San Francisco, so look for Landale to be featured heavily against San Diego.
  7. Can Seton Hall stay close at Villanova? Two of Seton Hall’s previous three loses at Villanova have been by 25 points or more. The Pirates come into this game as the Big East’s second best offensive rebounding team and will be up against a Villanova group that ranks last in opponents’ offensive rebounding rate. Seton Hall can attack a Villanova team that has the conference’s seventh-best defensive efficiency rating, a dramatic drop after having led the conference in each of the three previous seasons.
  8. Can Syracuse get a big win against Virginia? In its seven-point loss at Virginia in January, Syracuse logged its season best 51.9 percent offensive rebounding rate, Virginia has been susceptible to this all season long. If Syracuse can even out the free throw disparity from the previous match-up, the Orange have a chance to keep things close.
  9. Will Vermont grab a three-game lead in the America East Conference? Riding an 11-game winning streak, Vermont has a chance to extend its conference lead to three games with a win over UMBC this weekend. Even with a mid-season injury to leading scorer Anthony Lamb, Vermont still has a balanced attack now led by Trae Bell-Haynes, who has scored 17 or more points in seven straight games.
  10. Will NC State make it three in a row? North Carolina State has a mix of high-quality wins and head-scratching losses. The Wolfpack welcome a Notre Dame team having lost six straight at home for a chance for their first three-game ACC winning since 2015. Continuing the streak could go a long way in keeping the Pack on the right side of the bubble.
Matthew Eisenberg (140 Posts)

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