Ten Questions to Consider: Rivalries, Rematches & Opportunities

Posted by Matthew Eisenberg on February 5th, 2021

From Monday through Wednesday, AP Top 25 teams had won just 10 of 19 games played during the week. Heading into the weekend, will chaos continue to rule the college basketball landscape? Rivalries, rematches and teams streaking in both directions lead the way of the 10 questions I have for games taking place over the next few days.

  1. Can Illinois get transition opportunities against Wisconsin? (Wisconsin @ Illinois, Saturday, 2:30 PM EST, Fox) Hoop-Math data shows that Illinois ranks among the top 20 in both percentage of shots that come in transition and transition field goal percentage. In Wisconsin’s five losses they have allowed an average of 13 fast break points to opposition. In Badgers’ victories, opponents are averaging just 6.6 fast break points.
  2. Can Cade Cunningham carry the Cowboys over the Longhorns? (Texas @ Oklahoma State, Saturday, 3 PM EST, ABC) After a pair of early fouls against TCU on Wednesday, Cunningham played just eight minutes in the first half without scoring a point. He finished the game with 15 points over the final 10 minutes, but an ill-advised shot attempt with the clock winding down in a tie game ultimately cost the Cowboys. Cunningham finished with a season-low two rebounds and two assists.
  3. Will UCLA be able to get post scoring from Cody Riley up against Evan Mobley? (UCLA @ USC, Saturday, 10 PM EST, Pac-12 Network) The Bruins picked up a win against Oregon State last week despite shooting just 32.7 percent from the field. Mick Cronin wants to use Cody Riley’s time on the court with the ball in the big man’s hands. Riley, a strong but undersized big, will be challenged by the talented Evan Mobley who is averaging over three blocks a game over his previous eight games.
  4. Which part of the first matchup will carry over into the Big Ten tilt between Iowa and Indiana? (Iowa @ Indiana, Sunday, Noon EST, Fox) In the first matchup between these teams, Iowa led and seemed to have control for the opening 28 minutes of action. Then Indiana went on its 27-6 run which flipped control of the game. The Hoosiers lived at the free-throw line with a free-throw rate of 66 percent, which led to 21 makes on 35 attempts.
  5. Can Maryland win back-to-back league games for the first time this season? (Maryland @ Penn State, Friday, 7 PM EST, Fox Sports 1) Maryland has followed up each of its three previous Big Ten wins by losing its next game. The Terps will be challenged by the Penn State duo of Izaiah Brockington and Myreon Jones, who are both averaging more than 18 points per game over their last four home games.
  6. Can Alabama make a run at a #1 Seed? (Alabama @ Missouri, Saturday, Noon EST, SEC Network) As of Thursday, the Crimson Tide have 10 wins across Quad 1 and Quad 2 teams, the most in the nation. Missouri is one of two remaining teams on Alabama’s regular-season schedule that would qualify as a Quad 1 opponent. These teams are polar opposites of one another from beyond the three-point line, with Alabama ranking first in offensive and defensive three-point percentage in SEC play, while Missouri ranks 12th in both categories.
  7. Will Villanova be focused at the tip following its loss at St. John’s? (Georgetown @ Villanova, Sunday, 2:30 PM EST, Fox) Villanova’s offensive efficiency against St. John’s was a season low by more than 15 points. In the first matchup with Georgetown, the Wildcats trailed at the half, 46-33, before coming back to win the game by 13. It truly was a tale of two halves with Georgetown shooting 58 percent in the first and just 27 percent in the final 20 minutes.
  8. Can Posh Alexander continue his hot play and further push the Johnnies into bubble contention? (St. John’s @ Providence, 2 PM EST, Fox Sports 1) The St. John’s freshman guard is averaging 16.8 points per game during the current five-game winning streak of the Red Storm. During this stretch, Alexander has found his stroke from three-point range having made 10-of-23 (43.5%). In the team’s first 14 games, Alexander was just 5-of-22 (22.7%) from beyond the arc.
  9. Can LSU end its recent funk and find its three-point shot? (Florida @ LSU, Saturday, 2 PM EST, ESPN) On the one hand, three of LSU’s four recent losses have come against top 15 ranked opponents. On the other hand, over their last five games, the Tigers are shooting just 27 percent from beyond the arc. One player the Tigers particularly need to improve from deep is Cam Thomas. Over LSU’s first seven games, Thomas was making 36.8 percent of his three-point attempts, but since the calendar hit 2021, Thomas is just 17-of-74 (23%) from deep.
  10. Can the Tar Heels avoid the trap that is a struggling Duke team? (North Carolina @ Duke, Saturday, 6 PM EST, ESPN) North Carolina heads to Durham without a Quad 1 win. While Duke sits at just 7-6, with a NET Ranking of 66th prior to action on Thursday, the Blue Devils would qualify as a Quad 1 opponent. The Tar Heels must be cognizant of their turnover woes, especially coming off committing 17 in the loss at Clemson.
Matthew Eisenberg (130 Posts)


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