Ten Questions to Consider: A Super Slate of Action Ahead of the Super Bowl

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on January 31st, 2020

While the Super Bowl will have the attention of the sports world on Sunday afternoon across America, there are plenty of critical college basketball match-ups this weekend beforehand. Games involving teams at the top of their conference, schools looking to avoid falling further on to and beyond the bubble, and programs looking to make statements to their doubters. Here are 10 questions I have for the college basketball world this weekend.

  1. Can Rhode Island’s defense again control VCU for 40 minutes? (VCU @ Rhode Island, Friday, 7 PM EST, ESPN2) In the first meeting between the Atlantic 10’s second and third place teams, Rhode Island came prevailed in a game in which it never trailed. VCU’s starting backcourt of Marcus Evans and De’Riante Jenkins shot a combined 3-of-14 from beyond the arc, and a Rhode Island win would keep the Rams just a game behind Dayton in the conference standings.
  2. Is Kofi Cockburn vs. Luke Garza the best individual match-up of the weekend? (Illinois @ Iowa, Sunday, 1 PM EST, Fox Sports 1) Last season, Luke Garza averaged 13.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. This season, he’s become one of the most dominant players in college basketball, averaging 23.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Illinois will likely throw its tenacious freshman, Kofi Cockburn, at Garza. Cockburn, an elite rebounder and good shot-blocker, could be one of Garza’s biggest challenges to date.
  3. Will Stanford’s defense give it a chance at home in a battle of two of the Pac-12’s best? (Oregon @ Stanford, Saturday, 6 PM EST, Pac-12 Network) Presumptive Pac-12 favorite Oregon and NPOY candidate Payton Pritchard head to Maples Pavilion this weekend to battle Stanford. The Cardinal own the Pac-12’s best defensive efficiency, thanks in part to their highest defensive turnover rate and second-best defensive effective field-goal percentage.
  4. Can Moretti, Ramsey and Shannon replicate their midweek performance for Texas Tech? (Texas Tech @ Kansas, Saturday, 4 PM EST, ESPN) In Texas Tech’s 89-81 win over West Virginia on Wednesday night, the trio of Davide Moretti, Jahmi’us Ramsey and Terrence Shannon combined for 69 points on 18-of-29 shooting. It will be imperative for the Red Raiders that this trio limits their turnovers, an area that has been a particular problem during league play.
  5. Can Wisconsin rally at home around some tough circumstances? (Michigan State @ Wisconsin, Saturday, 1 PM EST, FOX) Not only does Wisconsin have to take on Big Ten leading Michigan State this weekend, but the Badgers now must do so shorthanded. Brad Davison will miss the game as a result of his flagrant foul late in the Iowa game, and Kobe King decided to leave the program on Wednesday.
  6. What has happened to Ohio State’s defense in league play? (Indiana @ Ohio State, Saturday, Noon EST, ESPN) On the season, Ohio State has a defensive efficiency of 91 points per 100 possessions (PPP), ranking 18th in the country. In league play, that has ballooned to 104 PPP, ranking 10th among Big Ten teams. League opponents have made north of 37 percent of their three-point attempts against the Buckeyes.
  7. Can Rutgers pick up a crucial win away from the RAC? (Rutgers @ Michigan, Saturday, 4:30 PM EST, Big Ten Network) With a win on Saturday, Rutgers would guarantee itself a winning record at the end conference tournament season for the first time since 2005-06. The Scarlet Knights will be looking for just their second win away from home this year. On the season, Steve Pikiell’s team is 1-5 away from the RAC, with its lone win coming at Nebraska.
  8. Can Georgetown end its Big East woes in what might be a must-win game at Madison Square Garden? (Georgetown @ St. John’s, Sunday, 1 PM EST, CBS) Georgetown has lost three straight and six of its first eight Big East games. The Hoyas are now 0-4 on the road in league play, having lost each of those contests by nine or more points. After making 32 percent of his three-point attempts as a freshman in Big East play, Mac McClung has made just 8-of-36 (22.2%) through the eight Big East games played so far.
  9. Can Markell Johnson fix his shooting woes? (Louisville @ N.C. State, Saturday, 2 PM EST, ESPN) In Markell Johnson’s previous two seasons at NC State, he converted 41.9 percent of his three-point attempts. Through 20 games this season, Johnson has made just 25.7 percent of his 113 three-point attempts. In order to beat Louisville, Johnson must find a way to snap out of his season-long funk.
  10. Will Yoeli Childs be the difference maker? (Saint Mary’s @ BYU, Saturday, 10 PM EST, ESPN2) Yoeli Childs missed the first match-up of the season between these teams, a three-point Gaels win in overtime. In his nine games played on the season, Childs is putting in just over 21 points and nine rebounds per game. Already with conference losses to Pacific and Santa Clara, this is a game Saint Mary’s really needs to find a way to win.
Matthew Eisenberg (110 Posts)


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