ACC M5: 03.11.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 11th, 2013


  1. ACC: The ACC Tournament (#ACCTourney) bracket is set.

    The official 2013 ACC Tournament bracket (credit: The ACC).

    Some juicy match-ups to look forward to: Erick Green’s potential last hurrah against a beatable NC State team, Maryland’s potential rubber match with Duke in the quarterfinals, Miami’s likely game against desperate (but good) bubble teams in the semis. It’s looking like a very interesting tournament from all sides. No less than three teams are desperate for marquee wins, Miami still has a very outside shot at a top seed if it beats Duke in the finals, and Duke can gun for the top overall seed.

  2. Raleigh News & Observer: This may be the most thorough argument for putting Mason Plumlee ahead of  Shane Larkin for ACC Player of the Year. Laura Keeley uses tempo free statistics to justify voting for Plumlee over Larkin, but overemphasizes team performance when brushing off Erick Green. She has a point that Green plays for the worst team in the league, but without context (and probably a lot of game tape), it’s impossible to know if Green’s numbers are from teams daring him to beat them by shutting down his teammates or whether they’re in spite of opponents looking to shut him down. Without definitive evidence for teams shutting down his teammates and letting him go off, Green has to be this year’s ACC Player of the Year. His volume and efficiency numbers bring to mind JJ Redick.
  3. Bear Down Stats: Steven Jung did some interesting research into the last 10 national champions and found some interesting tidbits. Since 2003 no champion has had a defensive efficiency of over 90 points per 100 possessions. More surprisingly, no group has managed to win everything with a tempo below 65.4 possessions a game (slightly below average). On the whole, champions have elite offenses, elite defenses and play with some pace. Only Connecticut in 2011 and Syracuse in 2003 managed to win it all with an efficiency margin of under 30 points per 100 possessions (and both of those teams had elite guys to create shots down the stretch). What does this mean? It means Duke, Indiana and Gonzaga are the only three teams to fit the profile of the last 10 champions (Louisville fits as well if you ignore offense and just look at net efficiency margin).
  4. Duke Basketball Report: Al Featherston makes a good case for the ACC Tournament (which does crown the official ACC Champion) based on lopsided scheduling. If you look at Duke and Miami‘s records against common opponents (they played 12 of their 18 games against the same teams on the same floors), Duke actually holds an 11-1 record compared to Miami’s 10-2 mark. The difference between the schools was the games that didn’t fall against the same opponents: Duke lost both its road games (at Maryland and at Virginia, who went undefeated in conference home games), while Miami won both of its road games (at Clemson and at Georgia Tech). All this does is illustrate the problem with comparing small samples of records with unbalanced schedules.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: ACC historian Samuel Walker wrote a gloom-and-doom piece for the News & Observer Friday with some interesting historical nuggets that show the esteem for academics within the ACC. The ACC led the way with minimum academic standards, which actually kept Joe Namath and Pete Maravich from playing at Maryland and NC State, respectively. At the end of the day, Walker’s bone to pick is with conference realignment. He has a very good point that the long term financial gains are still an unknown.
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Duke Reminds Everybody That It Might Be The Favorite In March

Posted by KCarpenter on March 10th, 2013

It was over at the half. Coaches sometimes hate when others say that, but in Duke’s 69-53 victory over North Carolina, both Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski largely agreed–it was over at the half. Seth Curry was unstoppable, going 8-for-10 in the first stanza. He was closely guarded by Reggie Bullock and others, but in the end, nothing seemed to matter. “He toyed with us,” said Williams, and he wasn’t wrong. Curry led the Blue Devils to a 42 point first half (on 69.2% shooting) while a miserable looking North Carolina offense only managed 24 points (on 27.3% shooting).

Coach K Is Working His Magic Again

Duke scored at will, jumping out to a 14-0 run to start the game and one that ultimately decided it. North Carolina had nice spurts as the game went on, and the margin fluctuated, but ultimately the 14 points held up all the way to the final buzzer. Curry cooled off in the second half, and North Carolina did a better job getting close shots at the basket, but ultimately, a strong game plan and Mason Plumlee did wonders for keeping the Tar Heels at a distance. Plumlee looked more comfortable than he has in a long time, racking up 23 points on 15 shots as well as 13 rebounds. Mason’s board work can stand on its own, but it was all the more impressive for the number it did against James Michael McAdoo. While McAdoo had occasional success scoring on Plumlee, he was simply dominated on the boards. Usually playing as Carolina’s only big, McAdoo managed only 3 rebounds in 34 minutes. For reference, Plumlee had three times as many boards on the offensive end as McAdoo had on the defensive end. The Duke big man’s dominance on the boards kept Carolina at bay throughout the second half.

The Tar Heels did make a second half run, technically slightly winning the half 29-27 while shooting 41.4% to the Blue Devils’ 39.1%. Still, after spotting Duke 14 points to start the game and with Plumlee controlling the boards, the greatly improved play in the second half simply didn’t matter. Krzyzewski put it very simply in his post-game comments: “Obviously, we played really well tonight.” With Miami’s recent stumbles, Duke looks like the hottest and most talented team in the conference.

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Award Tour: Burke vs. Porter, McLemore vs. Smart and Larranaga vs. JTIII

Posted by DCassilo on March 8th, 2013


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

With just one regular season game to go, nothing is decided. It’s another example of how unpredictable this season has been. For Player of the Year, it’s down to Trey Burke and Otto Porter Jr. Both players have carried their teams and made everyone around them better. Then there’s Freshman of the Year, which is down to Ben McLemore and Marcus Smart. They are a couple of players who have been impacts guys from the opening game. And Coach of the Year? It’s Jim Larranaga’s to lose, but lately, it looks like he’s trying to lose it.

The final update of this will run on Tuesday of next week, so make sure to look out for it.


10. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 3 SPG

I’ve written about Smart so many times this season that I need to give myself a moment to step back and admire how well-rounded he is as a player. His 3.0 SPG are third best in the country. He’s a guy I’ll always want on my team.  This week: March 9 vs. Kansas State

9. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 19.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG

A rematch of this 2012 Final Four matchup highlights the best of the remaining Big Ten non-conference games.

Thomas and Withey are in the top-10.

Oddly enough, the Buckeyes have played their best basketball when Thomas has played his worst. Still, he’s scored at least 14 points in each game of this four-game winning streak. In most other conferences, he would be the Player of the Year. This week: March 10 vs. Illinois

8. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 17.7 PPG, 7 RPG

You would be hard-pressed to find many players that are more efficient than Olynyk. The junior shot 68.8 percent from the field while attempting over 10 shots per game. It will be fun when the rest of the country figures out who he is this March. This week: Regular season over.

7. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.5 PPG, 8. RPG

It will go down as a disappointing year because of the expectations, but Zeller still improved his scoring and rebounding averages in his sophomore season. The most surprising thing, though, is that there is a Hoosier ahead of him on this list. This week: March 10 at Michigan

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last week – 6)
2012-13 stats: 23.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG

McDermott closed the regular season out in style with 41 points against Wichita State. Although he will probably get a few first-place votes, what ultimately held him back was the struggles of his teammates. This week: Regular season over.

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Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on March 8th, 2013


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

With the first tickets to the Big Dance being given out this weekend and regular season titles still up for grabs in the Big East, Big Ten, ACC, and A-10, it should be one amazing weekend of college hoops. It’s the most amazing time of the year, so sit back and enjoy. Let’s get to the breakdowns!

#17 Syracuse at #6 Georgetown – 12:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (****)

Better Make It a Double.

Boeheim is looking for answers at Syracuse.

  • Syracuse broke a three-game losing streak this week against DePaul while Georgetown lost for the first time in 11 games against Villanova. With the loss, the Hoyas dropped into a three-team tie for first place in the Big East with Marquette and Louisville. The Orange have struggled recently and had a tough time against the Hoyas defense two weeks ago at the Carrier Dome. Jim Boeheim’s team only went 4-20 from downtown and could not get anything going from their guards. The Hoyas struggled on offense as well but were able to rely on Otto Porter once again who put in 33 points. In order for Syracuse to snap out of this funk, they need to get more production from guards Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams. If both players can take better shots by driving the ball to the hoop, we will see a completely different Syracuse team. Georgetown put Villanova on the foul line 42 times earlier this week. Given the size of Triche and Carter-Williams, both players should be going straight to the basket in an attempt to draw fouls or get lay-ups. Keep a close on both players, as they are the keys to this game. If they are settling for jumpers, Syracuse is going to struggle again.

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ACC M5: 03.08.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 8th, 2013


  1. USA Today: This is a phenomenal article from Mike Lopresti on the 30-year anniversary of the shocking NC State national championship over Houston (which, in awesome time consuming news, you can watch in its entirety on Youtube). Two of the three most important pieces to that game are dead–Jim Valvano and Lorenzo Charles (the dunker)–but the legacy lives on through countless ESPN replays. There are very few moments in sports where the ecstasy of winning was so raw and powerful as it was watching Valvano run one direction before sprinting towards the mob by the NC State basket. 
  2. Indy Weekly: Jeff Bzdelik press conferences are worth the price of admission. He often comes across as an odd combination of aloof and irascible. After the Demon Deacons took a beating from CJ Leslie and NC State, Bzdelik offered this sage take on Leslie’s game:

    “When he wants to be, if he really wants to be, he can be”

    That’s actually a pretty fair summation of Leslie’s career. Bzdelik should’ve known he was two syllables away from a haiku, but such is life.

  3. The ACC: The conference released its All-ACC Academic teams Thursday. Four of the 14 players call Duke home, and over half of them are freshmen. Mason Plumlee is the fourth Duke player to ever make the team two years in a row; Jarell Eddie also made the team for a second straight year. All in all nine schools made the cut, but Virginia, NC State and Florida State did not. To qualify you had to have a 3.00 GPA both this year and over the course of your entire career (which explains the high number of freshmen on the team).
  4. Washington Post: It’s not a secret that Mark Turgeon and Roy Williams are close. The interesting part of this article is twofold: (1) with Maryland’s coming departure to the Big Ten, Mark Turgeon won’t have to worry about taking advice from a direct competitor, and (2) the author’s language when talking about Turgeon and Maryland’s departure. “Changing conferences wasn’t part of the deal. Turgeon came to Maryland to be a part of the tradition-rich ACC. […] But there’s only one Tobacco Road.” North Carolina bias aside (Maryland’s not on Tobacco Road and if anything, the reverence surrounding Tobacco Road irritated Gary Williams as much as anything), but Turgeon always speaks in favor of the move publicly.
  5. This doesn’t need any analysis. (But really Tony Bennett, you didn’t want to double team the guy with three game winners this year before he got the ball?) Michael Snaer put the shakes on Joe Harris before getting the old-fashioned three point play to beat Virginia.

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ACC Afternoon 10: 03.06.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on March 6th, 2013


  1. Winston-Salem Journal: Dan Collins equates Wake Forest‘s tipping point to getting easy baskets in transition. If the Demon Deacons do, they do well. If not, you get the idea. The issue with that theory is Wake Forest isn’t a team that forces turnovers. The Demon Deacons struggle more on offense than defense, so when they can score (easily or with difficulty), they perform well. Their struggles are much more complex than just getting points in transition. In their two blowout losses to Maryland, Wake Forest was beaten by Maryland’s frontcourt in College Park and Dez Wells in Winston-Salem. Maryland is also notorious for turning the ball over. Regardless, this makes me want to go back and watch some Wake Forest games to see what makes them tick.
  2. Sports on Earth: This article does a good job addressing the challenge ahead of Duke’s opponents with Ryan Kelly now back. Essentially Kelly is the linchpin on both ends of the floor: He opens the lane up for Mason Plumlee, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon to score, but he also helps shut it down as a versatile, wily defender. Other than Kelly, Duke didn’t play that well against Miami on Saturday night. However, things clicked — though not playing the conference’s best defense helped — after a slow start against Virginia Tech on senior night.
  3. Tallahassee DemocratTerrance Shannon‘s three minutes were the bright sunshine through the rainy day at Chapel Hill. He didn’t play well, but having him back at all after his gruesome injury is terrific news. The next steps for Shannon are obviously to continue getting back into game shape. On the whole, this has been a very quiet year in the ACC injury-wise (other than Kelly’s foot). Here’s to hoping everyone stays healthy for postseason play.
  4. Boston Globe: Sunday’s upset of Boston College over Virginia was special. Dick Kelly, the Eagles’ longtime SID, was diagnosed with ALS two years ago. This year he was awarded the USBWA award for courage for his fight against the disease. Kelley still keeps in close contact with the athletic department, and after freshman Joe Rahon hit the game-winning shot, it was clear even the younger players know Kelley well.
  5. Airball Free Throw@WXMoose took the time after NC State‘s too close win at Georgia Tech to recap the game in GIFs. This may be the funniest post I’ve read all year.
  6. BC Interruption: If you’re not a diehard ACC basketball fan or a fan of Boston College, you probably don’t know about Eddie Odio. He was supposed to redshirt his freshman year but played his way into the lineup. This year he’s averaging four points in a little under 20 minutes a game. But how he gets those points is why you should know him. Odio was a “standout volleyball player.” This should tip you off that he can seriously jump. Odio’s dunks are one of the many reasons watching Boston College is more enjoyable this year. His entire game still isn’t at the ACC level, but his athleticism certainly is. If Odio can bulk up a little bit and work on his jump shot (he’s only shooting 17% from deep this season), he’ll be even more fun to watch in future seasons.
  7. Gobbler Country: Sticking with player profiles, Gobbler Country did a nice homage to Erick Green. It follows Green’s Virginia Tech career and how he started life buried on the bench as a freshman before Dorenzo Hudson’s injury gave him the chance he needed his sophomore year. This year, Green’s numbers are truly phenomenal. It’s easy to say, “Well, he’s on a bad team” and brush them off. But efficiency-wise, Green is far and above the best ACC player out there. Sure, Mason Plumlee and Shane Larkin could never come close to his usage rate. Each has too many other weapons on their respective teams. But Green deserves as much recognition as he can get and probably the ACC Player of the Year award.
  8. Baltimore Sun: Pe’Shon Howard has had a tough year. He started the year as captain and leader of a team that many thought was dangerous. Midway through the year his captaincy was revoked and he sat out Maryland’s marquee win over Duke. Howard was also plagued by season-long cold shooting with a horrible tendency to turn the ball over, and often looked lost on both ends of the floor. Still, his performance against Wake Forest looked like he’s getting back on track — especially defensively. But unlike Mark Turgeon’s problem child last season, Howard appears to be responding to his criticism and looks like he’ll be returning to College Park next year. The Terrapins will be better for it.
  9. Charlotte Observer: If you’ve watched much of Duke this season, it’s hard not to notice the bond between Mike Krzyzewski and Mason Plumlee. Plumlee may still make some of the same errors he did as a freshman and sophomore, but they’re not from a lack of effort. He’s extremely focused this season (on winning a national championship), and his enthusiasm has helped to build a great relationship with the Duke coach. I’m not sure there’s a Plumlee-esque senior leader on next year’s team, but if I had to guess that person would be Tyler Thornton.
  10. Chattanooga Times Free Press: The last line of this story about Shane Larkin may reveal the real reason Larkin quit baseball:

“Shane used to always be known as my son,” the elder Larkin told ESPN last week. “Now I’m known as Shane’s father, and I couldn’t be happier about that.”

But whatever the true reason, Larkin is phenomenal. He’s the most exciting, important and consistent player on the ACC’s best team. If he wants to truly cement his legacy in Coral Gables, he needs to lead his team to the ACC Championship and/or the Elite Eight. Truthfully, his legacy as a ‘Cane is already safe, but those achievements would put him over the top. He’s also got the best team he’ll ever have at Miami, so now is the time.

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Erick Green and Mason Plumlee Are all-ACC First Team, But Who Should Join Them?

Posted by Jimmy Kelley on March 4th, 2013

Jimmy Kelley is an ACC correspondent for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @JimmyKelley_

Unlike the ACC Player of the Year Award, All-Conference honors are handed out based on who had the most outstanding season in relation to the other players in the league. However, much like the POY award, there are different schools of thought about how the team should be ordered. Do you honor the five best players regardless of position, or do you fill it out like any other team with one player from each of the guard, forward and center spots? Personally I believe in the former and based on that there are two players who simply cannot be left off of this year’s All-ACC first team: Erick Green of Virginia Tech and Mason Plumlee of Duke. But who has earned the other three spots? There are a handful of contenders for those three slots with a few playing their way onto the team and a few others on their way out.

Mason Plumlee Erick Green

Mason Plumlee and Erick Green are shoo-ins for All-ACC honors.

After Plumlee and Green the first logical place to look is at who has played well in big games and has the stats to back up their play on the court. The first three players that come to mind here are Richard Howell, Shane Larkin and Joe Harris. Each plays a major role for his team, each is his team’s steadying force and each player has had a transcendent game against Duke.

Howell’s may be the easiest case to make because he is the truest center in the league and is averaging 12.3 points and 12.3 rebounds in ACC games (12.8 PPG/11.1 RPG overall) and his 16-point, 18-rebound effort against Duke was one of the first truly impressive games of the ACC season. He is the rock on an otherwise inconsistent team that has gotten mixed results from both their talented freshman class and star junior forward, C.J. Leslie. This has not been the season many thought was in store for the Wolfpack, but without Howell it could have been much worse.

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Award Tour: Huge Week Carries Otto Porter to the Top of the NPOY List

Posted by DCassilo on March 1st, 2013


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

As we hit March, the NPOY race looks like it’s down to four players: Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo, Mason Plumlee and Otto Porter Jr. While it’s almost certain that one of those four will take home the hardware, it’s almost impossible to decide on a clear front-runner. Look around the Internet, and you’ll see each of those players No. 1 somewhere. In a season with no clear-cut best team, a race like this for Player of the Year is fitting. Can’t wait to see how it all plays out over the next 17 days.


10. Jack Cooley – Notre Dame (Last week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.4 PPG, 11 RPG

Cooley & Martin Will Likely Be Overlooked Again (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

Cooley has had a lot to celebrate this season. (AP Photo/J. Raymond)

One of the few players from a major conference to average a double-double, Cooley has been a quiet force on an overlooked Notre Dame team. He’s not going to make any top 10 highlight reels, but he is going to be the reason the Irish win games. This week: March 2 at Marquette, March 5 vs. St. John’s

9. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 19.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG

The Ohio State junior is what he is — a scorer who can do some rebounding. He does both every single night, regardless of defense. Thomas is a really good college player that is close to being a great one. This week: March 5 at Ohio State

8. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 16.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG

Zeller has shown a knack for disappearing in big games, and Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota was no different. He went just 2-of-9 from the floor before fouling out with nine points. He can’t do that in March. This week: March 2 vs. Iowa, March 5 vs. Ohio State

7. Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga (Last week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 17.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG

As Gonzaga appears poised to grab the No. 1 ranking, Olynyk is on a tear. The junior has made at least 70 percent of his shots in his last four games. Regardless of competition, that’s pretty impressive. This week: March 2 vs. Portland

6. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 22.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG

At a time when his team desperately needed it, McDermott had one of his best games of the season on Wednesday for Creighton. The junior finished with 32 points and 11 rebounds against Bradley. He will need to do that routinely for this team to go anywhere. This week: March 2 vs. Wichita State

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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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Set Your DVR: Week of 02.25.13

Posted by bmulvihill on February 25th, 2013


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 (****)

Michael Carter-Williams Has Been a Revelation This Season

Can Michael Carter-Williams cause Marquette to turn the ball over?

  • 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.

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