Set Your Tivo: 03.06.10

Posted by THager on March 6th, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#8 West Virginia @ #9 Villanova – 12:00 pm on CBS (****)

Both of these teams had the potential earlier in the year to be # 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, but now one of them may even drop to a # 3 seed.  With West Virginia ranked eighth in the country and Villanova ranked ninth, this game will probably decide who has to play a # 14 seed in the tournament (which is historically a much tougher game than a # 15 seed).  This should be a great game to watch, as WVU has the sixth best offense in the country, while Villanova ranks fifth in offensive efficiency.  Both teams, especially Villanova, struggle on defense.  One of the few defensive standouts is Devin Ebanks, whose size previously helped force Scottie Reynolds into 1-5 shooting.   Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Reynolds scored 17 points against everybody else, and West Virginia suffered a rare home loss.  WVU shot below 26 % from beyond the arc in that game, and will have to shoot closer to their 35 % season average if they want to keep up with Villanova’s offense.  The Mountaineers have a bigger lineup, and if they can limit Villanova’s looks inside (VU shot 60 % from two-point range last game) they should come out with a win.

#1 Syracuse @ Louisville – 2:00 pm on ESPN (***)

For those fans who thought that Louisville’s last loss might put them out of the tournament, think again.  According to RTC, U of L is safely in at this point, and it may take a loss here and an early exit in the Big East tournament for the Cardinals to be put back onto the bubble.  The last ever game at Freedom Hall should be a great matchup between the top ranked Orange and the team that shocked them at the Carrier Dome a few weeks ago.  In that game, U of L was the beneficiary of 30 points from their bench in a 66-60 victory.  Although this game will be on the road for Syracuse, it might actually play into their hands, as they are the only team in the country without a road loss.  Louisville’s 80th ranked defense may have a tough time guarding Syracuse’s attack, which ranks eighth in offensive efficiency.  Wesley Johnson was just 5-20 in the last game, so look for more productivity from the fantastic ‘Cuse forward who shoots over 49 % from the floor.  Although a loss here may not put the Cardinals on the “first four out” list, they may need to record at least one win in the Big East tournament to stay safe.

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Set Your Tivo: 03.03.10

Posted by THager on March 3rd, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Connecticut @ Notre Dame – 7:00 pm on ESPN (***)

This game will be absolutely crucial to the tournament stock of both teams.  If UConn gets in the tournament this year, it will be by the skin of their teeth, and if Notre Dame is actually dancing in March, they will likely be one of the last teams in.  Both of these teams are dangerous right now, as the Huskies have recently beaten Villanova and West Virginia, while the Irish are coming off victories against Pitt and Georgetown.  What is ironic about Notre Dame is that their recent run has come without superstar Luke Harangody.  If the Irish win their last two contests and win a game in the Big East tournament, how will the NCAA selection committee view his absence?  The more that ND wins without him, the less it seems they will be punished come selection time.  Tim Abromaitis, who has been Harangody’s sidekick this year, scored 53 points in the first two games Harangody was out (both games were losses), but when his point totals and shooting percentages dropped in his team’s last two games, the Irish won.  The team has only had seven bench points in their last two games, but every other starter has stepped up at times to take the weight off of Abromaitis.  In the previous matchup of these teams early in the year, Harangody scored 31 points and the bench did not score at all in a 12-point loss for the Irish.  If they can get double figure efforts from at least three starters and keep up their 1.7:1 assist to turnover ratio, they have an excellent shot of moving into one of those last spots in the field.

#5 Kansas St. @ #2 Kansas – 8:00 pm on ESPN 360 (*****)

Can KU's Mr. Big Shot Do It Again (Getty/P. Aiken)

KSU coach Frank Martin has already built up the game to be one of the biggest in school history, and nobody can blame him.  With a win tonight, Kansas State would make a huge jump in their bid for a top seed.  Unfortunately, the viewing for this game could be tricky.  It is being broadcast on the Big 12 network, which is not accessible to many fans across the country, and ESPN360 is available intermittently.  Fans can try to access channelsurfing.net and atdhe.net in order to view this game, because almost everybody can agree it is worth watching.  When these teams met earlier in Manhattan, Sherron Collins came up with a huge three-point play at the end of overtime to give Kansas the key victory.  The Jayhawks were unable to pull away earlier because they missed 11 free throws in the game.  Kansas actually shoots below 70% from the line on the year, and if the game goes down to the wire again, their free throw shooting could become a factor.  Kansas State has won seven consecutive games, and their wins have become increasingly more impressive, with solid victories at Texas Tech and against Missouri in their last two contests.  Now that some of KSU’s former opponents are now struggling, the Wildcats are still looking for a win against a great team, and if they can keep up their outstanding defensive efforts like they had against the Red Raiders and Tigers, they will have a great chance to win tonight.  Still, Kansas has an even better defense (the Jayhawks rank third in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive rankings), and with 58 consecutive wins at Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks should likely win again in a highly entertaining matchup.

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Set Your Tivo 03.02.10

Posted by THager on March 2nd, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Georgia Tech @ Clemson – 8:00 pm on ESPN 360 (***)

These teams are heading in opposite directions heading into tonight’s matchup.  The Tigers have won four of their last five games, while Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt has come under some fire for his team’s performance in the ACC.  They have lost seven of their last eight road games, the only victory coming against North Carolina.  The Yellow Jackets will now have to face a Clemson team that has lost just two games at home this year, and has a home win over Maryland on their resume.  Both of these teams struggle on offense, with just two double digit scorers on each squad and assist/turnover ratios below 1:1.  Neither team ranks among the nation’s top 50 offenses, but their defenses are superb.  Georgia Tech’s defense is ranked 14th according to Ken Pomeroy, and the Tigers are sixth in the country in defensive efficiency.  The last time these teams met, the Yellow Jackets came away with a win despite 3-17 shooting from beyond the arc.  Zachery Peacock took advantage of foul trouble by Clemson and sank a pair of free throws with just 3.2 seconds left for the 66-64 victory.  Peacock has scored just 25 points in his last five games, and Georgia Tech could use a bigger contribution from him if they want to get an elusive road win.

Illinois @ #6 Ohio State – 9:00 pm on ESPN (****)

Is Illinois actually a bubble team?  They are not on the bubble as of now, as far as we’re concerned, but with two difficult games to end the regular season (they will finish against Wisconsin), if the Illini lose those matchups and get knocked out in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, they’ll be tap-dancing on thin ice.  The Buckeyes, who are guaranteed a spot in the tournament, will have a nine day break between this game and their next game during the Big Ten Tournament, and the last thing they want is to have a loss lingering in their heads for over a week.  The Illini have been streaky all season, and it appears they may be in the midst of another losing streak, with three losses in their last four games.  In the last matchup between these teams, Illinois never showed up and shot just below 17 % from the three-point line.  Ohio State shoots almost 50 % from the field, and their offense ranks among the nation’s top 10 in efficiency.  Demetri McCamey has been a vital part of the Illini this year, and as he goes, IU goes.  Unfortunately, he has hit a cold streak lately, and if he has another bad night from the field, Illinois fans may start worrying about their plans for March.

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Set Your Tivo: 03.01.10

Posted by THager on March 1st, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#13 Georgetown @ #7 West Virginia – 7 pm on ESPN (****)

It's Been Up and Down for Freeman and the Hoyas

Both of these teams look like they peaked at the wrong time this year.  Georgetown has lost three of their last four games, and hasn’t put a three-game winning streak together since the turn of the year.  West Virginia has fared a little better, but they are playing .500 ball over the last three weeks.  Perhaps one of the reasons the Mountaineers have struggled of late is the play of Da’Sean Butler, whose point totals have gone down in each of the last five games.  Nevertheless, WVU still ranks third in the Big East standings and both of these teams are capable of making a run in the next few weeks.  Tonight’s matchup should be a great chance for Butler to get back on track against a Georgetown defense that ranks #43 in efficiency.  The Hoyas have a solid offense, but if leading scorer Austin Freeman is still limited by the flu, they will depend on guards Chris Wright and Jason Clark to pick up the slack.  Georgetown shoots 50% from the field on the season, so they have the weapons to deal with it.  With the game in front of a tough Morgantown crowd, Freeman’s sickness may be too much for the Hoyas to overcome tonight.

Oklahoma @ #21 Texas – 9 pm on ESPN (*)

Much like the Hoyas and Mountaineers, both of these teams are reeling heading into March.  Oklahoma has lost six consecutive games, and Texas has still not been able to recover from their first loss of the season.   After a performance against Texas A&M in which they shot below 37%, they will likely finish outside the top 25.  Oklahoma’s last win was February 6, but it came in a dominating effort against the Longhorns at home.  Texas never led the entire game, and the Sooners shot almost 42% from the three-point line.  With a sprained ankle and case of mononucleosis, Willie Warren will likely not play in tonight’s game, but that may not be such a bad thing for the Sooners.  He is their leading scorer on the year, but he was benched earlier in the season and Sports Illustrated named him the most disappointing player in the country.  On paper, Texas should dominate this game.  They are one of the best rebounding teams in the country and are going up against a smaller Oklahoma lineup.  The Longhorns have a solid defense, while Oklahoma’s offense fails to rank in the top 50 in the country and their defense ranks #169 in efficiency.  Oklahoma looked strong against the Longhorns in their last game, but don’t expect the Sooners to break their losing streak on the road.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.28.10

Posted by THager on February 28th, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#24 Richmond @ Xavier – 1 pm on ESPN2 (****)

Jordan Crawford and Xavier Look to Take the A10 Title

If there are still fans who don’t realize the importance of this game, they need to look no further than the recent comments by Xavier head coach Chris Mack on the message boards at Xavierhoops.com:

“Our team needs you loud. If you’re just going to come to the game to watch, give your tickets up. Heck, you can WATCH from home. I want our arena rocking!! Calling all PARTICIPANTS. This isn’t a marketing ploy. This is your head coach, sitting at his home computer asking for the best fans in the country to come alive for 40 game minutes on Sunday LIKE NEVER BEFORE.”

There is a good reason why Mack is so excited for this early game.  With eight consecutive wins, Richmond has not only cracked the top 25, they have actually taken the lead in the A-10 standings.  If the Spiders win their last three games against Xavier, Dayton, and Charlotte, their tournament stock could make a huge jump.  The Musketeers have won four games in a row and are tied with the Spiders for the Atlantic Ten lead.  Richmond comes in ranking only 90th in offensive efficiency, and they are going to have to hit their open shots, as they won’t get many second chance opportunities against the best rebounding team in the conference.  Xavier has a dynamic offense that ranks 10th in efficiency and features future NBA pick Jordan Crawford.  Xavier has won 22 consecutive games at home, and if they are able to hold Kevin Anderson in check, it looks like Richmond may lose its place atop the A-10.

Louisville @ Connecticut – 2 pm on CBS (****)

Both of these teams were in trouble of missing the tournament a few weeks ago when they met up.  Louisville survived that game, but with losses against St. John’s and Georgetown since then, their at-large status is still in doubt.  UConn, due to two improbable wins over Villanova and West Virginia, is playing their way back in the tournament.  RTC said before UL’s last game that they were going to have to get production from somebody other than Samardo Samuels and Edgar Sosa.  The Cardinals only had four points from their bench in that game, so Louisville is still going to need some more balance if they are going to beat a hot team like Connecticut.  The Huskies’ offense features four double figure scorers, but rank just 61st in offensive efficiency, largely due to a poor assists to turnover ratio.  Louisville’s defense ranks just 68th in the country, and they have allowed their last five opponents to shoot over 40% from the field, which will not cut it at the XL Center.  The Cardinals started the year just 1-6 on the road, but have won their last two road trips (including a win over Syracuse) so perhaps they have figured out what was plaguing them earlier in the season.  With Connecticut ranked 40th in the RPI and Louisville at #41, this game could be the difference in who is among the last four in and who is among the first four out.  Given UConn’s recent upsets, look for them to continue their surprising run toward a potential NCAA berth.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.27.10

Posted by THager on February 27th, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#2 Kentucky @ #17 Tennessee -12:00 pm on CBS (****)

With a win today, the Wildcats will win the SEC regular season title (John Calipari apparently doesn’t care), and it will also keep them in contention for the overall #1 seed in the tournament.  It will be anything but an easy victory as the Volunteers gave the Wildcats a scare when they meet a few weeks ago in Lexington.  The Volunteers were leading midway through the second half, but scored just 10 points in the final 10 minutes, four of which came in garbage time.  This time, the game will be in Knoxville, where Tennessee is 13-1 on the year including a victory over #1 Kansas (their only loss to date).  UT’s drought against Kentucky should have come as no surprise, considering the Vols have the 88th best offense according to Ken Pomeroy.  However, they will need to improve upon their last performance (they shot below 40 % against Florida on Tuesday) if they want have any chance in this game.  Statistically Kentucky is not as imposing as people may think, as the Wildcats don’t rank in the top 10 in either offensive or defensive efficiency, but they manage to get it done in the win column–the most important statistic. Given Wayne Chism’s recent struggles and their ugly loss against the Gators, look for Kentucky to push their winning streak to nine games.

The man who could be Governor of Kentucky

#12 New Mexico @ #11 BYU – 4:00 on Versus (*****)

Versus will finally be making their debut on RTC’s Set Your Tivo feature, and they picked a great game to do so.  Brigham Young has won four straight games, and New Mexico hasn’t lost since January 9th.  New Mexico has been under-appreciated this year, as they rank lower than BYU despite more wins in the conference, a victory in a head-to-head match-up, and a higher SOS.  The RPI, which ranks UNM at #11, also has their stock dropping despite 12 straight wins.  If they are going to prove they belong in the top 10, they are going to have to beat a BYU team that is nearly impossible to beat in Provo.  They have won 21 straight games at the Marriot Center, which holds over 22,000 seats.  In the last matchup in Albuquerque, the Lobos led virtually the entire game, but were never able to push the lead to double digits.  The Cougars scored eight points in the final two minutes to push the game to the brink, but thanks to an equally raucous crowd at The Pit, New Mexico survived.  BYU’s Jimmer Fredette scored 27 points in that contest, and since that loss, he has been on a tear.  With the exception of a 43-point win against Air Force, he has scored at least 20 points in every game, and has two different games in which he scored 36 points.  New Mexico, which ranks just 78th in defensive efficiency, will have their hands full against a BYU team that ranks third in the nation in three-point field goal percentage.  Given Brigham Young’s home record and their #5 Pomeroy ranking, I think BYU will wrapping up the MWC title today with a win.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.25.10

Posted by THager on February 25th, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Tulsa @ #5 Duke- 7:00 pm on ESPN2 (**)

Singler is Key Cog in the Devil Attack

Tulsa had a great chance of chance of making the NCAA Tournament a few weeks ago, but four losses in their last five games have virtually eliminated any at-large chances for the Golden Hurricane.  Duke, on the other hand, has won six straight games to put itself in contention for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  It is rare to see an out of conference matchup at this time of year, but it will give the Blue Devils one last chance this season to extend their home winning streak against non-conference opponents.  They have won 76 straight games outside of the ACC at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and given Tulsa’s recent performances, it would appear the #77 won’t be that difficult.  The Blue Devils are the top ranked team in Ken Pomeroy’s overall rankings, while the Golden Hurricane don’t rank in the top seventy in either offensive or defensive efficiency.  Despite their recent performances, the one thing Tulsa has going for them is that their two best players, Ben Uzoh and Jerome Jordan, have continued to play well, scoring over their season averages for much of the last two weeks.  There is no non-conference opponent that has even challenged the Blue Devils on the road, but the key for their success will be to shut down Duke’s big three players.  Virginia Tech recently shut down everybody else on their team, but Jon Scheyer, Nolan Smith, and Kyle Singler scored 63 of Duke’s 67 points in a win.  Tulsa, if they have any chance of coming out with a win tonight, will have to minimize the production from those three stars.

Santa Clara @ Gonzaga – 11:00 on ESPN2 (**)

Gonzaga has had a tendency this year to disappoint their fans as soon as they start to believe that this is a legitimate contender.  They lost to San Francisco when they made just 5-18 three-point field goals, and Matt Bouldin was just 3-12 against Loyola Marymount in an eight-point loss a week ago.  With a win tonight, the Bulldogs will achieve something that has rarely been done in the history of college basketball – win a tenth straight conference title.  The last time these teams met in January, Santa Clara had a golden opportunity to win, with a 13-point lead nearly midway through the second half.  However, the Zags held Santa Clara scoreless the last 5:57 of the game en route to the close win.  Gonzaga has gone just 5-2 in the WCC since that game, but they have dominated opponents at home in that stretch, beating three teams (including Portland and St. Mary’s) by a total of 63 points.  Elias Harris has tailed off a little since his fast start in conference play, and Bouldin cannot repeat his recent performance if the Bulldogs are going to win any game much less make a run in the tournament.  Despite their solid play against Gonzaga in their last game, Santa Clara is just 11-18 on the year, so look for the Zags to try and make another late season run to save their protected tournament seed in the Spokane pod.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.24.10

Posted by THager on February 24th, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Dayton @ #18 Temple – 6:30 pm on A-10 (****)

All the Dayton fans who thought that the Flyers had locked up a bid when they beat Charlotte by 28 turned out to be sadly mistaken.  After losses to Saint Louis and Duquesne, the Flyers are again on the bubble and probably would be on the outside looking in if they lose tonight at Temple.  Dayton has been an enigma this year having beaten solid teams like Xavier and Charlotte while having some horrendous losses in conference play. They only have two players scoring in double figures, and they also only have two players averaging more than 1.9 assists per game.  Their offense is also ranked just 105th in efficiency, yet they have shot well over 40 % in each of their last seven games, a stretch in which they went just 4-3.  For the Owls, their main problem is their inconsistency as they are one of the most erratic three-point shooting teams in the country.  Against Richmond, they were just 1/10 followed by a 6/6 performance against Rhode Island then a 2/15 effort against Saint Joe’s.  One of the biggest things the Owls have going for them is that they are playing at home, where they have beaten Villanova, Xavier, and Rhode Island this year.  However, if Dayton shoots close to 50 %, and Temple struggle from the 3, the Flyers might be able to save their at-large status for at least one more game.

#16 Pittsburgh @ Notre Dame – 7:00 pm on ESPN 2 (***)

Pitt may not have the longest winning streak in the country right now, but nobody has been more impressive than the Panthers over the past three weeks.  They have won five straight games, with victories against West Virginia, Marquette, and Villanova in their last three contests.  The Panthers are now just two games out of first place in the Big East, and could be a # 3 seed in the tournament by the time selection Sunday rolls around.  The Irish, on the other hand, are looking at another NIT bid after blowing a golden chance to reach 20 wins before their last stretch of the season against several tough teams.  After losing three close games to mediocre teams in Seton Hall, St. John’s, and Louisville, they are now 10th in the conference.  Going back to their loss at Rutgers in January, Notre Dame’s last four losses have been by a combined seven points.  Luke Harangody, who may be one of the more under-appreciated players in the country due to his team’s record, will be out for the game and may not come back the rest of the season.  Unless he returns up soon, the Irish have no shot at the tournament.   With Ashton Gibbs playing so well for Pitt (he has scored at least 20 points in three of the last four games) the Panthers look to be unstoppable right now, and should send Notre Dame to a fourth straight loss.

An Early Candidate for National COY

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Set Your Tivo: 02.23.10

Posted by THager on February 23rd, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#13 Georgetown @ Louisville – 7 pm on ESPN2 (***)

For how large the gap is between their rankings, Georgetown is not that much better of a team than Louisville.  Georgetown is still aiming for a #3 seed in the Tournament, while Louisville still has some work to do.  However, Louisville is a game ahead of the Hoyas in the Big East standings, and with a victory tonight they will have more wins on the year than Georgetown.  UL has all the momentum, as they are coming off of three straight conference wins and the Hoyas have not won since February 9.  Louisville’s main concern will be guarding the Hoyas, as the Cardinals’ #80-ranked defense will be going up against a Georgetown team that shoots 50% from the floor as a team.  They Hoyas are trying to rebound from a rough performance against Syracuse in which they missed 40 shots and Julian Vaughn was held scoreless.  The Cardinals have a solid offense as well, ranking ninth in offensive efficiency, but they are going to need more help from players other than Samardo Samuels and Edgar SosaJerry Smith is their third leading scorer, but he hasn’t scored more than seven points in a game since February 6.  The Hoyas have lost two straight games, but their second half performance against Syracuse may indicate that they have come out of their slump, and they should get back on track tonight.

#6 Kansas State @ Texas Tech – 8 pm on ESPN360 (**)

The Wildcats have quietly been working towards a potential #2 seed the last few weeks, winning their last five games against the bottom of the Big 12.  Texas Tech, who has lost three straight games to most likely kill their at-large tournament hopes, is now among the worst teams in the conference.  Had the Red Raiders pulled out their recent games against Oklahoma State and Texas, they would have looked like a much more formidable opponent at 18-8, so this game won’t likely be a blowout.  Nevertheless, the Red Raiders are going to have to step up their defense if they want to keep this game close.  Their defense, which ranks #97 in efficiency, has allowed their last four opponents to shoot over 40% from the field, including a road game against Baylor in which they allowed the Bears to make 55% of their shots.  Kansas State, led by Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente, features four legitimate scorers and ranks in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, so they will likely capitalize on any defensive miscues that Texas Tech makes.  Although the Red Raiders don’t have the best offense by any stretch, they shoot almost 39% from the three-point line, and can at least keep the game within reach if they hit their shots.  Against Baylor, they made 8 of their 13 three-pointers, so this game may largely hinge on their three-point shooting.  KSU has a solid defense, and given that Texas Tech dropped their last two home games, I don’t think the home crowd will play much of a factor tonight.

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Set Your Tivo: 02.22.10

Posted by THager on February 22nd, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#8 West Virginia @ Connecticut – 7:00 pm on ESPN (****)

Ebanks & Friends Will Have Their Hands Full Tonight

Could UConn be playing themselves back in the tournament?  With two straight wins, including a road win at Villanova, the Huskies have at least made an appearance on Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology as part of his “next four out.”  With a win over West Virginia, they could make a jump towards the “first four out” and with three winnable games remaining, the Huskies could still make a charge toward a tournament bid.  One of the reasons for their recent success is the spark they have had in their offense, which is ranked just #75 in efficiency.  They shot 48% in each of their last two games, and scored their highest totals since their upset over Texas last month.   Their roster actually matches up well with West Virginia’s tall lineup.  Five of West Virginia’s top six scorers are forwards, and five of UConn’s top seven players are either forwards or centers.  WVU ranks third in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive rankings, but with an equally big lineup, the Huskies average more rebounds and blocks per game, so if the Huskies can beat West Virginia at their own game, they have an excellent chance to win.  However, we should not get ahead of ourselves, as West Virginia is a potential #2 seed in the NCAA tournament, and have also won two consecutive games of their own.  The Mountaineers will have their hands full against a UConn team that is coming on strong.

Oklahoma @ #1 Kansas  – 9:00 pm on ESPN (**)

This has the feel of one of those games ESPN selected long before the season began.  There are no indications that would leave any fan to think Oklahoma would lose this game by less than 10 points.  They rank #56 in offensive efficiency and #176 in Pomeroy’s defensive rankings, while Kansas is the only team in the country to rank in the top five in both.  The Jayhawks are also the only team that ranks in the top five in rebounds and assists per game.  Oklahoma will be playing on the road, where they are 1-8 this year, and Kansas has won 58 consecutive games at Allen Fieldhouse.  The Sooners have not lost a road game by less than ten points since January 19, and Kansas has not won a home game by less than ten points since the day after that.  Oklahoma has more scorers averaging in double figures, but I don’t think it will matter against a team this deep and balanced.  Kansas may be the only team in the country that has too many good players, and they have won 12 straight games, so look for Kansas to win by a healthy margin.

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RTC Live: Northwestern @ Wisconsin

Posted by THager on February 21st, 2010

Both of these teams need to bounce back quick after disappointing losses.  Wisconsin ruined their Big Ten title hopes with a road loss at Minnesota, and Northwestern damaged their tournament status with a home loss against Penn State.  Wisconsin usually excels at the Kohl Center, but Illinois recently broke Bo Ryan’s streak of never losing a home game to an unranked Big Ten team.  Jon Leuer is back for Wisconsin, and they will need significant improvement from him if they want to win this afternoon.  He shot just 2-12 against Minnesota, and some fans are starting to question if he came back too soon.  Wisconsin is a legitimate tournament team, but if they don’t step up their game, they could be in danger of falling out of the top 25.  As for the Wildcats, they may need to win their conference tournament if they lose today.  Join us at 1 pm on RTC Live to find out which team makes a statement.

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Set Your Tivo 02.21.10

Posted by THager on February 21st, 2010

***** – 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 tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

#12 Ohio State @ #11 Michigan State – 12 pm on CBS (****)

Kalin Lucas Leads the Spartans Against OSU

The Buckeyes blew a golden opportunity to advance in the Big Ten standings when they lost at home to Purdue last week, but they have another great chance this afternoon against possibly the best team in the conference.  They are still only one game behind the Spartans in the standings, and if they can beat Michigan State on the road, they are once again in the running to win the Big Ten title.  In addition to potentially deciding the conference champion, Big Ten player of the year honors may also be on the line, as Evan Turner will try to wrest the POY award away from Kalin Lucas.  Both players have suffered injuries this year, but appear to now be at 100% for this game.  With Turner in the lineup, the Buckeyes are a completely different team with his ability to create shots for himself and find open players.  They rank #13 in offensive efficiency, and are third in the country in two-point field goal percentage, so the Spartans may have a tough time defending them (MSU is #41 in defensive efficiency).  These teams play different styles, as OSU uses a guard-heavy lineup and three of MSU’s top scorers are forwards, so I expect the Spartans to exploit the Buckeyes in the paint.  Among Ohio State’s top four scorers, no player is taller than Turner at 6’7, so Raymar Morgan and Draymond Green may try to carry their team at home.  Michigan State is 13-1 at home this year, and shoots over 53% from inside the arc, so look for the bigger team to take one step closer to a Big Ten title.

#3 Villanova @ #19 Pittsburgh – 12 pm on CBS (****)

If somebody told you two weeks ago that entering the Villanova vs. Pitt game, one of these teams would be coming off a loss and the other was in the midst of a four-game winning streak, that wouldn’t surprise too many people.  What does surprise fans is that the losing team is Villanova, while the Panthers seem to be firing on all cylinders.  Pitt had lost four of their five games from January 20 to February 3, but now has wins over three quality teams since that slump, with victories over Seton Hall, West Virginia and Marquette.  These teams have not met since their classic last year in the NCAA Tournament, when Scottie Reynolds sent the Wildcats to the Final Four with a last second shot.  Reynolds has carried his great play into this season, and shoots 49% from the field, an impressive percentage for a smallish guard.  Pitt’s Ashton Gibbs, on the other hand, had no points in their last game against Marquette, and will have to be a contributor for the Panthers to have a chance in this game.   This contest may come down to Villanova’s unbalanced play, as they rank fifth in offensive efficiency but are #68 in Pomeroy’s defensive rankings.  Their points per game is also deceiving, as they only rank 45th in field goal percentage, so look for the Panthers to at least give Villanova a run for their money at home.

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