Can Cody Zeller Continue to Stay Out of Foul Trouble?

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 26th, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

After 27 games which include just three losses, you begin to wonder if the Hoosiers have any glaring weaknesses that can be exploited during the postseason. At the beginning of the year, especially after Derek Elston’s injury, I wasn’t sure if they would have enough interior depth to beat elite teams in case Cody Zeller picked up a couple of quick fouls in the first half. Because if Zeller is forced to sit, Tom Crean would would have to go with a smaller lineup of Christian Watford, Will Sheehey or (gulp) freshman Hanner Perea in the frontcourt. Although Watford and Sheehey are capable of defending a 6’8” power forward, they wouldn’t be as effective on the offensive end if forced to exert so much energy on defense. But looking back at the Hoosiers’ season so far, Zeller has somehow managed to stay out of foul trouble, a very impressive feat considering that the Hoosiers have already played Minnesota and Michigan State. He has picked up four fouls in just three games: against Jacksonville, Penn State, and Georgetown. Opposing coaches can clearly see that with Zeller on the bench, the inside is open, but they haven’t yet succeeded in exploiting that weakness. Let’s examine how he has managed to stay out of foul trouble and if it could be an issue in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

ody Zeller has shown that he is a smart player on defense. (Photo credit: Sandra Dukes/US Presswire)

Cody Zeller has shown that he is a smart player on defense. (Photo credit: Sandra Dukes/US Presswire)

Crean has done an effective job of putting Zeller in comfortable positions on the defensive end of the floor. By using the zone against good offenses for certain stretches of the game, Zeller is not asked to face off against the opposition’s best forward. Let’s take both of the games against Michigan State to illustrate this game plan:

Spartan forwards Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne have the size and the footwork in the paint to get Zeller into foul trouble, but neither was successful in either of their attempts this season. Zeller covered the paint as part of the zone during the first game in Bloomington and even though it opened up some opportunities for Payne to attack through the backdoor (resulting in a couple of highlight dunks), it kept Zeller from picking up easy fouls. The zone helps “hide” the sophomore forward for a decent portion of the game. When forced to play man, Crean opted not to put Zeller on Nix, but used Watford there instead. At first glance, asking Watford to guard Nix seems like a terrible idea, but Zeller was quick to double-team the MSU big man and force him to pick up his dribble. Very rarely do big men in college possess a great ability to pass the ball out of a double team, especially if a seven-footer with quick hands is trying to swat the ball from behind. Nix scored just eight points in each of the two games against Indiana. The zone combined with smart defensive positioning has helped Zeller stay out of foul trouble and this strategy could be used against any other team that has a similarly versatile forward in the low post.

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Award Tour: Trey Burke And Marcus Smart Rise to the Top

Posted by DCassilo on February 22nd, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have a real college all-star game? First of all, it would give every team a break it needs, and second, seeing the top players face off would be great. Imagine something like Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott, Jeff Withey and Kelly Olynyk against Marcus Smart, Deshaun Thomas, Otto Porter Jr., Mason Plumlee and Cody Zeller. Personally, I would love to see Burke and Smart run their teams against each other. I know there is some lame all-star game during Final Four weekend, but a mid-season game is something that the NCAA should consider.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 15 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, 2.9 SPG

It’s amazing that Smart not only is this great already but also has so much room for improvement. In the double-overtime loss against Kansas on Wednesday, he was the most important player on the floor despite going 2-of-14 from the field. One more offseason of workouts will make him a lethal player. This week: February 23 at West Virginia, February 27 at TCU

9. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 10)
2012-13 stats: 17.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG

Kelly Olynyk's Breakout Year Has Gonzaga As One Of The Nation's Elite Offensive Teams (USA Today Sports Images)

Kelly Olynyk’s Breakout Year Has Gonzaga As One Of The Nation’s Elite Offensive Teams (USA Today Sports Images)

There is likely no better frontcourt tandem in the nation than Olynyk and Elias Harris. The two combine to average 32.5 PPG and 14.4 RPG. There are few teams in the country that will be able to match up with that duo in the NCAA Tournament. This week: February 23 vs. San Diego, February 28 at BYU

8. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 20.1 PPG, 6 RPG

Thomas is just a straight-up gunner. He takes 16 shots per game and has scored in double-figures in every game this season. It seems nearly impossible to completely take him out of a game defensively. This week: February 24 vs. Michigan State, February 28 at Northwestern

7. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.5 PPG, 7.8 RPG

For all his accolades as a scorer, McDermott’s ability to rebound often gets overlooked. The 6’8″ junior has eight double-doubles so far this season and has hauled in as many as 13 rebounds in a game. This week: February 23 at St. Mary’s, February 27 at Bradley

6. Jeff Withey – Kansas (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 13.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 4.0 BPG

At the most important part of the season, Withey is playing his best basketball. He’s had double-doubles in his last three games, which is something he hasn’t done all season. The 14 rebounds against Oklahoma State on Wednesday were a season-high. This week: February 23 vs. TCU, February 25 at Iowa State

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Three Questions About Tonight’s Michigan State – Indiana Showdown

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 19th, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

The Big Ten has been so competitive this season that we have been spoiled with match-ups between top-20 teams frequently during the weeknights. A quick glance through the schedule for the week and you realize that tonight’s game between Michigan State and Indiana features two teams ranked in the top five of the polls and the winner should have the upper hand for the conference title and a #1 seed in March. The Hoosiers controlled the tempo during their first game in Bloomington as they won 75-70, as the Spartans were handicapped for most of it because Keith Appling couldn’t stay out of foul trouble. Indiana’s game against Michigan was well-hyped by the national media because of ESPN Gameday in town for the event, but the second game of the season between two top-five teams from the B1G is no slouch. Folks in the Midwest will need to make sure they get out of work early to prepare for the early tip-off (6:00 PM CST) but as we wait for tonight’s action, the following is a list of key questions about this week’s version of the big game.

Keith Appling needs to stay on the floor if the Spartans hope to beat the Hoosiers tonight.(Paul Abell/US Presswire)

Keith Appling needs to stay on the floor if the Spartans hope to beat the Hoosiers tonight.(Paul Abell/US Presswire)

  1. How will the injuries affect each team? Victor Oladipo didn’t play much against Purdue on Saturday because he sprained his ankle, but the Hoosiers didn’t really need his services against a young Boilermaker squad. Oladipo will need to be nearly 100% for the game in East Lansing because he is the Hoosiers’ best on-ball defender and can help keep Appling from penetrating into the paint. It is tough to keep the point guard out of the paint during the final minutes of games (ask the Jayhawks and the Illini), but Oladipo is probably the only defender in the conference not named Aaron Craft who can make it happen. Oladipo’s quick hands were at work during the first match-up as he stole the ball six times and pulled down seven rebounds. Without their senior at 100%, Indiana’s transition game won’t be as efficient but it is likely that he will still find a way to be effective. On the flip side, Appling needs to stay on the floor and try to avoid the reaches on defense that caused him to pick up some early fouls in Bloomington. Backup point guard Travis Trice’s status is still uncertain for the game but even if he were to play, he may not be as effective because it may take some time for him to get used to the pace after sitting out the past few days. Trice played 30 minutes at the point in Bloomington but was hounded by the half-court pressure as he turned the ball over five times despite dishing out five assists. Freshman guard Denzel Valentine has provided the back-up point guard duties in Trice’s absence but he isn’t very comfortable handling the ball against pressure. Sharpshooter Gary Harris has played through back spasms during the past week but his nagging injury could make a comeback during the game, which could affect his long-range shooting. If the Spartans want to stay in this game without turning the ball over too many times, Appling will need to play at least 35 minutes tonight. Read the rest of this entry »
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Award Tour: Mason Plumlee Back at No. 1; A Farewell to Nerlens Noel

Posted by DCassilo on February 15th, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

College basketball suffered a devastating loss when news broke that Nerlens Noel had torn his ACL in Tuesday’s game against Florida. Perhaps the best defender in the country, Noel was starting to come into his own offensively. The injury has once again sparked the debate about the one-and-done rule. First of all, know your target with this debate. It’s the NBA, not the NCAA. David Stern came up with the rule, but the biggest effects have been seen in college basketball. The positive for the NCAA has been increased exposure. Everyone wants a chance to see players like Noel before they hit the big show. But on the flip side, it’s tough on coaches who can’t plan their recruiting as easily as they used to. And finally, there’s the health risk for the player. This is another reason why I think there needs to be some sort of union-like body watching out for college athletes’ interest. If we knew a player like Noel would be taken care of financially in the event of an injury, I don’t think people would have as big a problem with the one-and-done rule.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 6.8 RPG

The big man for Gonzaga is as consistent as they come, seemingly giving the Bulldogs somewhere between 15 and 20 points every single night. Some say this is the best Gonzaga team ever, and he deserves much of the credit for that. This week: February 16 at San Francisco, February 20 vs. Santa Clara

9. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG

The drop for McLemore is mostly because of the terrific weeks by other players on this list. The freshman didn’t do too badly himself, as he poured in 30 points in a win over Kansas State. This week: February 16 vs. Texas, February 20 at Oklahoma State

8. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 20.2 PPG, 6.2 RPG

Deshaun Thomas Makes the Buckeyes Very Tough to Beat

Deshaun Thomas Makes the Buckeyes Very Tough to Beat

As one of the few Buckeyes that can score, Thomas keeps posting 20-point games because he keeps getting a lot of shots. The junior has taken at least 15 shots in each of his last five games and fewer than 11 just once all season. This week: February 17 at Wisconsin, February 20 vs. Minnesota

7. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 23 PPG, 7.7 RPG

Losers of three straight and perhaps headed for a seat on the bubble, McDermott’s team is playing him out of the Player of the Year race. While he has played well, he’s missing the memorable performances he needs to overcome everything working against him. This week: February 16 at Evansville, February 19 vs. Southern Illinois Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume IX

Posted by jbaumgartner on February 11th, 2013

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…. my friend’s text response to my joking suggestion that Dickie V might not survive five overtimes at his age during the Louisville-Notre Dame game Saturday night: “At one point in the third OT he said on air, ‘Dan I gotta go to the bathroom. Seriously I’m not kidding,’ and then he was gone from the broadcast for like five minutes.” Priceless.

I LOVED…. Indiana going from an are-you-kidding-me loss to Illinois, complete with a late-game collapse and unforgivable defensive sequence on the buzzer-beater, to looking like a can’t-miss Final Four team by completely dominating Ohio State on the road.  Of course, what good college team hasn’t pulled this Jekyll and Hyde routine at least once this season? If Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller are on their A-game, though, this Hoosiers team is awfully tough to beat.

I LOVED…. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s stroke. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone pure so many consecutive threes as he did against Ohio State on Tuesday. As LeBron pointed out in a tweet, it’s pretty because the form is so consistent each time he rises up. His clutch marksmanship should have gotten the Wolverines a win at Wisconsin on Saturday, and it could be part of some fun nail-biters in March, too.

Tim-hardaway-jr_display_image

Tim Hardaway’s Stroke is Picture Perfect

I LOVED…. the cat-and-mouse ending to the Kansas-Oklahoma game. Bill Self made the absolute right call switching to the triangle-and-two defense, which got the Jayhawks back into the game in the final minutes. He dared the Sooners to beat them from the perimeter, and they did just that by knocking down multiple three-balls in the closing minutes. Perfect strategy shift, but better response.

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Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on February 8th, 2013

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Bubble watching has officially begun, which means March is just around the corner. With less than a month to go in the season, everything is still up for grabs in what has been a truly unpredictable season in college hoops. The Big Ten and Big East lead a solid slate of games this weekend. With epic snow hitting the east coast, it looks like most people will have to sit at home and watch hoops. Sounds great to most of us, I’d assume. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#1 Michigan at Wisconsin – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

Tim Hardaway Jr has had significant ups and downs so far this year.

Can Tim Hardaway Jr. continue his hot shooting from the outside against a strong Wisconsin defense?

  • On a per possession basis, we will see the best offense (Michigan) in the Big Ten versus the best defense (Wisconsin) in the Big Ten in this game. Michigan’s poor two-point shooting against Ohio State was very out of character for John Beilein’s squad. Fortunately for the Wolverines, their three-point shooting was able to carry them to a victory. Michigan went 14-24 from deep against the Buckeyes. Don’t expect Michigan to have the same success from outside against Wisconsin, as the Badgers have the best three-point defense in the conference. Watch to see if UM can bounce back inside the arc. When Michigan’s Mitch McGary is in the game, the match-up between him and Jared Berggren should be fun to watch on the inside and a key factor in the outcome. McGary is coming into his own and will be needed down low for second chance points. Expect this game to be a slow, mistake free contest. Execution of the half-court offense will be critical for both sides. The Wolverines definitely have the advantage there. Wisconsin needs to force Michigan to make tough shots. If Michigan is able to get open looks in the half-court, it will be along afternoon for the Badgers.

#2 Kansas at Oklahoma – 4:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (***)

  • Just when it looked like Kansas was going to run away and hide with the Big 12 title, Jayhawk Nation got shell shocked with two consecutive losses. Not only did they lose twice, but they lost at home and then against TCU, the only team in the conference without a win. Many are calling the TCU loss the worst in Kansas history. While that may be an overstatement, Bill Self certainly has to be concerned with his team’s effort as of late. The two losses are character tests for the Jayhawks, which is what makes this road game against Oklahoma so important. It’s not all roses for Lon Kruger and the Sooners, however. They are in the midst of their own two-game slide. Oklahoma has been up and down this season and could use a big win at home to boost their tourney chances. KU has been shooting awful in the past two games, particularly from three. They are 11-46 from downtown in that stretch. Look to see if the Jayhawks try to get in the lane more often with their big guards. Given Oklahoma’s mediocrity on offense and defense, this looks like it could be a bounce back game for KU. But given what we’ve seen so far in college hoops, nothing is for sure. Read the rest of this entry »
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Award Tour: Trey Burke Is The Best Player In The Country

Posted by DCassilo on February 8th, 2013

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

After weeks and weeks of coming close, Trey Burke has finally broken through and grabbed the #1 spot. It’s a long time coming, as Burke embodies everything you want in a player. He’s a scorer that can take over the game. He’s an unselfish player that likes to get his teammates involved. He’s a leader, who steps up in big moments and keeps his team focused. Look no further than his block of Aaron Craft’s potential game-tying shot on Tuesday as to why there’s nobody like him in the country. Michigan is in good hands come March.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Victor Oladipo – Indiana (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 13.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.3 SPG

The Hoosiers can beat any team on any given day if Victor Oladipo has a good game.

The Hoosiers can beat any team on any given day, if Victor Oladipo has a good game.

I’ll reluctantly include Oladipo, partly because there’s no one better and partly because you almost have to at this point. I don’t blame him, but the hype surrounding him has really surprised me. I just don’t see why people say he’s better than some one like Otto Porter Jr., who puts up equal if not better stats, when Oladipo has Zeller down low and Porter Jr. lost his second-best player to suspension. This week: February 10 at Ohio State, February 13 vs. Nebraska

9. Nate Wolters – South Dakota State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 22.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.5 APG

I don’t care what conference he’s in and how good his team is, Wolters is without question one of the 10 best players in the country. In case you missed it, he scored 53 points against IPFW on Thursday night. And as his numbers above show, he’s well-rounded too. This week: February 9 at Oakland, February 14 vs. IUPUI

8. Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown (Last Week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 14.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG

Porter Jr. played just once this week and had 11 points and seven rebounds in a win over St. John’s. He’s shot at least 50 percent from the field in five of his last six games. This week: February 9 at Rutgers, February 11 vs. Marquette

7. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG

It was a rough week for Kansas, but McLemore was only partially to blame. He had 23 points, his second-most in Big 12 play, in the loss to Oklahoma State, so he can be absolved for the game. Against TCU, though, his 0-for-6 3-point shooting was part of a dreadful night for the Jayhawks. This week: February 9 vs. Oklahoma, February 11 vs. Kansas State Read the rest of this entry »

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A Clash at the Top: Previewing Saturday’s Indiana-Michigan Game

Posted by jnowak on February 1st, 2013

It’s been a while since we’ve had a Big Ten game as highly anticipated as this weekend’s showdown in Bloomington between Indiana and Michigan. We knew both teams were going to be top 10-caliber teams, but the opportunity to see No. 1 and No. 4 square off in front of a Saturday night audience is a real treat. There’s going to be no shortage of excitement and things to watch for, but here are a few key match-ups that will have an impact on the game and which team will take over sole possession of first place in a few days.

Watching Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo square off will be a treat for basketball fans. (AnnArbor.com)

Watching Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo square off on Saturday night will be a pleasure for Big Ten fans. (AnnArbor.com)

  • Victor Oladipo vs. Trey Burke — There may not be a more enticing individual matchup in the conference than Burke versus Oladipo. Burke is arguably the conference’s top overall player and certainly one of the best point guards in the country. Oladipo is dynamic on both ends of the floor, but has emerged as perhaps the Big Ten’s top defender. It’s not just Burke’s scoring that impacts a game; it’s his passing, his leadership on the floor, and his ability to control a game. But Oladipo has a way of throwing everything off for an opponent. He gets in the passing lanes, makes deflections and loose balls, and makes you work just as hard to defend when he’s got the ball in his hands. Whichever player wins this head-t0-head matchup and affects the tone of the game in doing so will likely lead his team to victory.
  • Cody Zeller vs. Michigan’s Frontcourt — Zeller, the consensus choice for preseason National Player of the Year, leads Indiana in scoring (16.1 PPG) but still has been unimpressive at times. He’s often failed to assert himself in big games and down the stretch, and went through a really tough period when he scored just 11 points combined in the Michigan State and Penn State games last week. He bounced back with a 19-point, 11-rebound performance against a talented Purdue frontcourt, though, and should have an easier time against Michigan. Jordan Morgan is not exactly a huge force in the paint but has experience and logs usually between 20-25 minutes per game; he sat out the Northwestern game Wednesday because of an ankle injury. That leaves freshmen Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III — who are both talented, but inexperienced — to handle Zeller. Here’s where the Indiana big man’s experience should pay off.

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Night Line: Michigan, Indiana Set Stage For Game of the Season

Posted by BHayes on January 30th, 2013

nightline2

Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

For those of you who noticed the basketball game scheduled for 9:00 PM Saturday night in Bloomington, Indiana, Wednesday night followed script in a most beautiful way. All too often, we watch as titanic clashes are lessened by careless losses in the days leading up to the big one, but tonight, both Indiana and Michigan made sure they would not be caught looking ahead. Top-ranked Michigan went out and pounded Northwestern by 22 at home, while the third-ranked Hoosiers one-upped the Wolverine dominance by going into Mackey Arena and hanging 97 on a Purdue team that before tonight had a winning Big 10 record. Two impressive efforts that stood to only further whet the appetite of basketball fans across the country, because let’s be real: Saturday night’s match-up is shaping up to be the game of this college basketball season.

Good Luck Finding A Louder Gym Than Assembly Hall This Saturday

Good Luck Finding A Louder Gym Than Assembly Hall This Saturday

Purdue’s solid start to the conference season was in part due to a friendly early schedule, but the Hoosiers still went on the road and beat an average team by 37 tonight. The IU depth was there for all to see again this evening, as all five starters scored in double figures led by Cody Zeller’s 19. Much has been made of Zeller’s reticence to dominate games this year, but what many have considered a lack of production simply hasn’t been needed most of this campaign. Zeller is but one of a number of skilled offensive players Tom Crean has at his disposal – this luxury best evidenced by a stunning four Hoosiers ranking in Ken Pomeroy’s top 125 nationally for offensive rating. This may (and focus on the may here!) be the best offensive team in the land (#3 right now according to KenPom’s metrics), and their efficient outburst in West Lafayette tonight has to have them feeling ready for Michigan.

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Victor Oladipo Performs on Both Ends For Indiana During Big Games

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on January 28th, 2013

Deepak is a writer for the Big Ten microsite of Rush The Court. Follow him on Twitter for more about B1G hoops at @dee_b1g.

During Sunday’s 75-70 victory against Michigan State, Victor Oladipo stripped the ball from Spartans’ point guard Keith Appling on the very first play after the tip-off to finish with a thunderous slam on the other end. That specific play shows Oladipo’s versatility and intensity during a big game, and when he is clicking on all cylinders, the Hoosiers may be nearly unbeatable. Cody Zeller is Indiana’s best offensive player and there are very few teams that can slow him down, but Oladipo is the engine that takes the Hoosiers to the next level because of his excellent defense and quickness in transition.

The Hoosiers can beat any team on any given day if Victor Oladipo has a good game.

The Hoosiers may be unbeatable when Oladipo is allowed to play his game in transition.

The junior wing arguably has the quickest hands in the country and is one of the best on-ball defenders this side of Aaron Craft. Appling had a rough game in Bloomington by scoring just three points in 19 minutes; he was frustrated with Oladipo’s stifling defense from the tip and never got into a rhythm after picking up two quick fouls. If averaging 2.3 steals per game is not impressive enough, what sets Oladipo’s defense apart is how he creates chaos during the biggest games. He stole the ball six times against Michigan State yesterday and picked up three steals against Minnesota two weeks ago while also causing the Gophers’ Andre Hollins to turn the ball over five times in their loss at IU. Big Ten guards may still get their points but they are forced to earn every one of them when playing the Hoosiers, thanks to the defensive mastery of Oladipo.

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Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on January 25th, 2013

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

While this weekend’s slate of games doesn’t quite match last weekend’s, there are several conference match-ups that are vitally important in the Big Ten, ACC, and Mountain West. The theme of the weekend is “must win”. The action should be great, so don’t sleep on these games. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#5 Louisville at Georgetown – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

  • Louisville is trying to avoid a three-game losing streak, as they head on the road to Georgetown. Another loss by the Cardinals and Rick Pitino may have to do some reevaluating or reshuffling. For Georgetown, a fourth loss in the Big East this early would certainly put them on the verge of irrelevance. This game is the first of three straight home games for the Hoyas before heading on the road to Rutgers. If they can string together some wins prior to their match-up against Marquette next month, the Hoyas can keep themselves in the thick of the Big East race. In Louisville’s two losses to Syracuse and Villanova, they have struggled against the length of both teams. They simply could not get good shots over the taller players from the Syracuse and Nova. They shot 46.6% eFG and 44.8% eFG against those two teams. Georgetown is another long team. In order for Louisville to avoid a three-game skid, they must figure out a way to hit shots. Creating turnovers without capitalizing on them will not get it done on the road. The Hoyas on the other hand still need to protect the ball and play at their pace. If they are turning the ball over, which they have been doing in conference play, and the pace speeds up, it will be a big problem for John Thompson III‘s squad.

    Can Russ Smith Get Louisville Back On Track? (Credit: Getty Images)

#10 Minnesota at Wisconsin – 2:00 PM EST, Saturday on BTN (****)

  • Minnesota has lost three straight games while Wisconsin has lost two straight. Because the Big Ten is so tough this year, it’s too early to say that either team would be out of the race with another loss. However, it will make things much more difficult. The Gophers are struggling on defense in conference play and when they get aggressive, they are fouling. They are also turning the ball over at a rate of 24%. This isn’t the same team we saw in non-conference play. They have put themselves in a must win situation very early in Big Ten play. Similarly, Wisconsin is struggling after their big win against Indiana. They need to continue to play at their pace. If Minnesota can speed this game up with its great athletes, Wisconsin will have a tough time competing. Play close attention to Jared Berggren on the glass. He has to have a monster rebounding game in order for the Badgers to win. If Wisconsin can find a way to get to the line, they can make it four losses in a row for the Gophers.

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles: On Florida, Illinois, Surprising Conference Leaders, and More…

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 22nd, 2013

tuesdayscribblesBrian Otskey is an RTC columnist. Every Tuesday during the regular season he’ll be giving his 10 thoughts on the previous week’s action. You can find him on Twitter @botskey

  1. Saturday night’s epic Gonzaga vs. Butler game was everything college basketball is about and then some. The game had all the trappings: two great basketball teams, a national TV audience, a historic venue, two terrific (and classy) coaches, an electric atmosphere, 40 minutes of competitive action, and an indescribable finish to the game. This was college basketball in its purest form. Everything you could ask for in a game. The kind of game you would show someone who has never watched college basketball before. It was the game of the year to date, one that will be nearly impossible to top in the regular season (we know what the Tournament can do). This was a high-level game between two teams that have the potential to make deep runs in March and the top two “mid-major” programs of the last decade. Roosevelt Jones’ game-winner will be the lasting memory from this game but I hope people remember just how well it was played on both ends. In the final minute and a half, I don’t think either team missed a shot in those final 90 seconds and the only mistake was Alex Barlow’s turnover which, ironically, set up the memorable ending. Dick Vitale said it was one of the top five games he has seen since he started working for ESPN 34 years ago. I wouldn’t doubt it. The game was that good.

    Butler's contest against Gonzaga proved to be a top game-of-the-year candidate (AP)

    Butler’s contest against Gonzaga proved to be a top game-of-the-year candidate (AP)

  2. An important result from last week in the Big Ten was Wisconsin taking down Indiana on Tuesday night in Bloomington. That’s now 11 straight Badgers’ victories over the Hoosiers and it’s safe to say Bo Ryan owns Tom Crean. Even when Crean was at Marquette, he only won three games against Ryan’s Badgers in their annual intra-state rivalry making him 3-13 against Ryan in his career. “Tommy Basketball,” as Ryan once called him, didn’t have an answer for Wisconsin last week. The Badgers controlled the pace of the game from the opening tip and got physical with the more athletic and talented Hoosiers. Once again, Ryan overcame a talent disadvantage on the road to score a huge victory. He’s one of the best pure basketball coaches in the nation and it shows year after year no matter who is on his roster. Wisconsin let Cody Zeller do his thing in the first half but the Badgers really clamped down on him after halftime. A big key to the win was limiting Jordan Hulls. With Ben Brust glued to him most of the game, Hulls could only manage one three-point attempt. That’s outstanding defense and a great game plan against one of the best shooters in the country. Wisconsin limited everyone not named Zeller to 28.2% shooting, a remarkable accomplishment against one of the best offensive teams in the nation. It was a great win for the Badgers but, unfortunately for them, they followed it up with a road loss to Iowa on Saturday night. Nevertheless, Wisconsin is getting better. Never count out Bo Ryan. Read the rest of this entry »
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