College Hoops Monday: Your Commentary

November 21st, 2011

Monday marks the beginning of one of the most prestigious in-season tournaments as the Maui Invitational begins at the Lahaina Civic Center. The big game of the day: Michigan taking on Memphis, with both teams having designs on bigger things after seeing their seasons end in tough fashion on the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament last year. Josh Pastner's Tigers have played just one game on the season but they were impressive in that appearance, beating Belmont 97-81 on Tuesday. While the Bruins did manage to score 81 points, Memphis' length and athleticism proved problematic for their offense.

With some similarities between what Belmont runs and what Michigan will look to run, could that happen again? It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Wolverines could have similar issues with regards to opening up passing lanes. Memphis displayed their many offensive options in that game, with sophomore point guard Joe Jackson running the show with a number of scoring options at his disposal. Jackson (20 points, seven assists) was one of three Tigers to score at least 20 points on Tuesday with Will Barton (23 points) and Wesley Witherspoon (22) leading the way, and freshman Adonis Thomas added 12 off the bench.

Charles Carmouche and Chris Crawford are both solid perimeter shooters, with both being capable of getting hot in a matter of minutes. Michigan's played three games already but they haven't been the most prolific team offensively, scoring an average of 60.7 points per game. Darius Morris has moved on to the next level but even with the point guard the Wolverines were a team that got the job done by committee, something that tends to happen in John Beilein's system more times than not. Tim Hardaway Jr. is averaging a team-high 14.3 points per game, and the next five players in line with regards to minutes per game all average at least six points per game. 

The concern today for both teams: tempo. Michigan can play at a faster pace than they have (60.3 possessions per game), but there's a big difference between that number and the 79 possessions that Memphis reeled off on Tuesday. The key for Memphis will be to not become impatient to the point where they become reckless, and that stands at both ends of the floor for the Tigers. Remain disciplined on defense, because silly gambles can open up backdoor cuts and open three pointers for the likes of Stu Douglass and Zak Novak.

A surprising stat for Michigan is that they're shooting just 30% from beyond the arc, and they're likely going to need to be in the forties percentage-wise in order to beat Memphis. The first game of the Maui Invitational will certainly provide an interesting contrast of styles, but if the Wolverines can't find a way to counteract (read: shoot better from three) Memphis' superior free throw rate Michigan could be in for a long afternoon. 

Also of note on Monday are the two games in the CBE Classic in Kansas City, with Notre Dame taking on Missouri and California facing Georgia in the nightcap. The Golden Bears may be the most interesting team of the four to watch over the next two nights due to the fact that Mike Montgomery's team could be the best in the Pac-12. Jorge Gutierrez ranks among the toughest players in college basketball (he's also a skilled guard who averages 13.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game) and Allen Crabbe is one of the early favorites for Pac-12 Player of the Year.

Back in Maui, Georgetown takes on Kansas in a game that will offer a stiff test for the Hoyas' big men in the form of junior forward Thomas Robinson. Robinson will see more double-teams this season, and how he handles the extra attention will play a big role in the efficiency of the Jayhawk attack. The Ticket City Legends Classic concludes, and the individual matchup of Vanderbilt's John Jenkins and Oregon State's Jared Cunningham in the title game will be entertaining to say the least. And we'll have a rematch in the title game of the Paradise Jam as Marquette, who beat Ole Miss by 30 last night, takes on a surprising Norfolk State squad that they beat 99-68 a week ago. 

Monday's Schedule?
Drexel vs. Winthrop 1:00 pm ?
(17) Michigan vs. (10) Memphis 3:00 pm (ESPN2)?
Virginia vs. Drake 3:30 pm ?
Niagara vs. South Dakota St. 4:30 pm ?
Monmouth vs. Albany 5:00 pm ?
Detroit vs. G. Washington 5:00 pm ?
Tennessee vs. (6) Duke 5:30 pm (ESPN2)
?Ark.-Pine Bluff vs. FIU 6:00 pm
?NC State vs. Texas 6:30 pm (ESPN3) ?
Gardner-Webb at Indiana 6:30 pm (BTN)?
Massachusetts at Boston College 7:00 pm (ESPN3) ?
Manhattan vs. Fresno St. 7:00 pm ?
Sam Houston at Mercer 7:00 pm ?
St. Bonaventure at Siena 7:00 pm ?
Warren Wilson at Chattanooga 7:00 pm ?
Wright St. vs. (8) Florida 7:00 pm (ESPN3)
?Jacksonville at Bethune-Cookman 7:00 pm
?Brevard at UNC-Asheville 7:00 pm ?
Judson at IPFW 7:00 pm ?
Howard at Rider 7:00 pm ?
Savannah St. at Butler 7:00 pm ?
N'western St. at (20) Cincinnati 7:00 pm (ESPN3)?
Green Bay at Indiana St. 7:05 pm
?Florida Christian College at Citadel 7:05 pm ?
Austin Peay at Bowling Green 7:30 pm ?
Stetson at Charleston So. 7:30 pm ?
Notre Dame vs. (25) Missouri 7:30 pm (ESPN2)?
Brown at George Mason 7:30 pm ?
Mount St. Mary's at Minnesota 8:00 pm (BTN)?
Miami (Ohio) at Saginaw Valley 8:00 pm ?
Victory vs. Toledo 8:00 pm ?
Blue Mountain College at SE Louisiana 8:00 pm ?
UL-Monroe at Mississippi St. 8:00 pm ?
Campbell at Chicago St. 8:05 pm ?
Presbyterian at Davidson 8:15 pm ?
SMU at Oral Roberts 8:30 pm ?
North Florida at (3) Ohio St. 8:30 pm (BTN)?
(20) Vanderbilt vs. Oregon St. 9:00 pm (ESPN3)
?UCLA at Chaminade 9:30 pm (ESPNU)
?UT-San Antonio at Colorado St. 9:30 pm
?(22) California vs. Georgia 9:45 pm (ESPN2)?
CS-Dominguez Hills at Pacific 10:00 pm
?Central Mich. at Pepperdine 10:00 pm ?
Linfield at Portland St. 10:05 pm ?
Georgetown vs. (11) Kansas 11:50 pm (ESPN2)