***** - 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
Florida @ #14 Tennessee – 1 pm on CBS (***)
These football rivals will face each other for the first time this year, and it should be a good one. Tennessee has had a better season overall, but is going in the opposite direction of Florida. After winning seven straight games following the arrest of Tyler Smith and three others, the Volunteers dropped a bad game at Georgia and followed that up with a home loss to Vanderbilt. The Gators, on the other hand, have won four straight games to grab a share for third place in the SEC. They have given up less than 68 points per game in that stretch, and Tennessee has surrendered 78 and 85 points in their last two contests. For the whole year, UT has played better defense, ranking #16 in defensive efficiency, and the Vols average nine steals per game. For UT to get back on the winning side, they are going to have to revert back to their old style of defense against a Florida team that has five players that average double figures. Led by Kenny Boynton, a freshman who scores 15 PPG, the balanced Gator attack puts up over 73 points per game. The game is in Knoxville, but the Gators are 3-1 on the road this year, so this game should go to the wire. To be fair, Florida’s four wins have come against bad SEC teams in LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Georgia, so I expect the Vols to bounce back against a Florida team that may not be as good as their record indicates.
Maryland @ #21 Clemson – 5:30 pm on FSN (****)
Maryland may not know it, but they are fighting for the tournament lives just as much as Clemson is. The Terrapins, who currently sit atop the ACC, are ranked 50th in the RPI (Clemson is #46) and with a couple losses they could be looking at a bubble spot. Clemson, who just three games ago was sitting at 15-3, will now have to defeat the conference leaders to avoid a fourth straight loss. If Clemson loses tonight, they will be 3-5 in the ACC, and due to their recent loss at Boston College, would claim sole possession of 10th place in the conference. There is no way the selection committee will allow a team that plays that poorly in conference to get into the tournament, so Clemson needs to channel what allowed them the hot start to avoid another epic collapse. The key for the Tigers to win this game is to shut down Maryland’s high powered arsenal. The Terrapins rank in the top fifteen in the country in points per game, assists per game, and rank in the top ten in assists to turnover ratio and offensive efficiency. Maryland is led by the fiery Greivis Vasquez, who scores 17.8 points per contest and also ranks 8th in the country at 6.2 assists per game. Clemson has the ability to the ability to shut down powerful offenses, as they have not allowed an opponent to score over 75 points per game since December 2. They are seventh in the country at 10.2 steals per game and ranked ninth in defensive efficiency. Despite playing at home, their recent play cannot be overlooked and look for the Terrapins to further raise the bar in the ACC.