Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
There are four games left in the regular season for most teams and the conference battles are still going strong. The last week and a half of the season should be exciting for everyone. Let’s not waste any time and get to the breakdowns.
#11 Syracuse at #19 Marquette - 7:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)
- Both of these teams are coming off losses that have dropped them one game behind Georgetown for the Big East lead. The final four games of the season are certainly no cakewalk for Syracuse as they have to play at Marquette, home against Louisville and DePaul, and then at Georgetown to close out the regular season. Marquette has it slightly easier as the will play at home against Syracuse and Notre Dame and then on the road against Rutgers and St. John’s. The Orange are 4-4 in their last eight games and have struggled offensively. They shot below 40% eFG in all four of the losses. Their three-point shooting has been particularly bad as they have gone 5-of-14, 3-of-14, 4-of-23, and 4-of-20 in those games. A road game at Marquette will not be easy since the Golden Eagles are 9-0 at home this year. Turnovers have been the problem for Marquette but mostly away from the Bradley Center — if Marquette can protect the basketball and the perimeter, they can win this game. Syracuse simply needs to knock down its open shots. If they are going to break out of their three-point shooting slump, Marquette is the team to do it against because Buzz Williams’ perimeter defense is suspect at best. Watch out for James Sutherland, as he has been hot and cold from deep since returning to the Orange lineup. If they can get a solid performance from him, SU will be in good shape. Also, keep an eye on the match-up between Michael Carter-Williams and Junior Cadougan. Cadougan is prone to turning the ball over, so if Carter-Williams can use his long arms to poke a few balls away and get the Orange out on the break, his team has a definite shot at a big road win against Marquette.
#7 Kansas at Iowa State - 9:00 PM EST, Monday on ESPN (****)
- Iowa State took Kansas to the brink in their first contest in early January, only to cave in overtime at Allen Fieldhouse. With four games to play in the Big 12 season the Jayhawks are currently tied with Kansas State for the lead, which puts the Cyclones squarely in the spoiler role. In the first game, Iowa State shot the ball an absurd 38 times from three. Expect more of the same in this contest as Kansas possesses a significant size advantage down low. Given that advantage, look for them to pound the ball inside to Jeff Withey early and often. Iowa State has no answer for Withey inside. If he is able to establish himself in the paint, it opens the floor for Ben McLemore to take over. If Kansas can defend the three and utilize its advantage in the paint, they should have no problem knocking off the Cyclones. However, if you see that three-pointers are raining down from Fred Hoiberg’s squad early, it’s going to be another nailbiter.