Set Your TiVo: 12.14.11Posted by Brian Otskey on December 14th, 2011
Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.
Cincinnati plays its first game since the Xavier brawl as Dead Week continues around the country. You should also keep an eye on the Iona/Richmond game at 3 PM but that one won’t be found on television.
Cincinnati at Wright State – 7:00 PM EST on ESPN2 (**)
- Cincinnati will only have six key contributors available when it heads to Wright State tonight. The Bearcats will be without Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj, Ge’Lawn Guyn, and Octavius Ellis due to their suspensions stemming from the fight with Xavier on Saturday. Sean Kilpatrick and Dion Dixon will have to step up in a big way for Cincinnati in order to win this game on the road. Wright State is not a good team, but the Bearcats have only one player taller than 6’5” available tonigt. For a team that can’t afford to speed up the game, that’s not a good combination for Cincinnati. Kilpatrick, Dixon, and point guard Cashmere Wright all can score, but the other Bearcats are all unproven. With Gates and company out, Cincinnati is missing a combined 22.2 PPG and 14.6 RPG in this game.
- Wright State’s biggest advantages in this game are home court and height. Cincinnati’s players may be rattled playing a road game after the suspensions while the Raiders have three players 6’7” or taller, including 6’10” A.J. Pacher. He’s been plagued by foul trouble all season but if he manages to stay on the court for any extended period of time, Pacher will cause problems for Cincinnati in the paint. Billy Donlon’s top scorer is point guard Julius Mays, who is averaging 10.2 PPG. Wright State doesn’t score a lot of points due to its brutal offense but Mays does hit on 39.4% of his treys. Ordinarily, Wright State wouldn’t have much of a chance to beat Cincinnati. Given the Bearcats’ personnel issues, the Raiders have a solid chance this time.
- Expect this game to be played at an incredibly slow pace. Both teams struggle to put the ball in the basket so this has the makings of a close game played in the 40s or 50s. For Wright State to win, it must assert itself inside from the start, limit Kilpatrick, and force some turnovers. The Raiders rank #35 in defensive turnover percentage, certainly a respectable number. Should this game come down to the wire, Cincinnati is actually a better free throw shooting team without the suspended players on the court. Kilpatrick, Wright and Dixon all shoot over 70% from the stripe. With all of the uncertainty around Cincinnati, we’re not sure how this game will play out. If forced to pick, we would give the slightest of edges to the home squad.
Tennessee at Charleston – 9:00 PM EST on ESPN2 (**)
- The Cougars are off to a 7-1 start after losing their top four scorers from a year ago, including Andrew Goudelock. This season, Bobby Cremins has done a nice job mixing a handful of upperclassmen with some nice young talent. Charleston shoots a lot of three-pointers and that could serve it well against Tennessee. The Volunteers rank near rock bottom in three point defense, allowing opponents to shoot 41.2% from beyond the arc. 42% of Charleston’s field goal attempts are threes and a hot night from deep could bury Tennessee. The Cougars are #7 in two-point percentage, mostly due to Trent Wiedeman (54.2% FG) and Antwaine Wiggins (17.4 PPG). Charleston uses a seven-man rotation, but it may be advantageous for them to speed up the game, create some turnovers, and get off as many shots as possible against Tennessee’s suspect defense.
- The Volunteers have lost five of their past six games and haven’t recorded a Division I win since November 16. Tennessee has some talent, but its #254 eFG% defense has really hurt the cause. Cuonzo Martin’s team is going to have to come up with a better effort defensively if they hope to win this game on the road in addition to Trae Golden and Jordan McRae taking control and scoring a lot of points. Each can shoot the rock well from downtown while Jeronne Maymon and Kenny Hall work the glass for Tennessee. If the Vols get a strong effort from these players and they stay out of foul trouble, they should have a good chance to win. Tennessee also has an edge on the boards and with regards to depth. Utilizing the deeper bench will be very important especially if any Charleston players get in foul trouble.
- Charleston beat Tennessee last year in Knoxville, but to win this one the Cougars will have to keep the Vols off the free throw line. Tennessee shoots 72.7% from the stripe, led by Golden and McRae, who are both over 80%. Charleston’s point guard Andrew Lawrence has the potential to be the game changer as does Cameron Tatum for Tennessee. He does a nice job setting up his teammates, but can also knock down the trifecta. At 43.8% from deep, Lawrence is a major threat against the Tennessee defense. As for Tatum, if he puts up big numbers alongside Golden and McRae, Tennessee will be looking good. Tennessee has played very hard for Martin but this is a major rebuilding year coming off the Bruce Pearl disaster. This should be a close basketball game but Charleston has the edge at home.
The Official RTC Star System
***** – 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 2014
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game