College Hoops Saturday: Your Commentary

January 22nd, 2011
First place in the Big 12 in on the line Saturday afternoon with Texas (15-3, 3-0), fresh off of an impressive win over rival Texas A&M, visiting Kansas (18-0, 3-0) with the undefeated Jayhawks looking to keep their 69-game home win streak alive. In order for Texas to pick up the victory they're going to need their frontcourt to play as well as they did against the Aggies if not better because they'll be up against one of the premier frontcourts in America. The Morris twins, Marcus (17.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Markieff (13.2, 8.7), were outstanding in the Jayhawks' pasting of Baylor on Monday night and with Thomas Robinson also contributing they've got three players (not to mention Mario Little) who can give the Longhorns' deep front line problems for all forty minutes. But it isn't as if Rick Barnes is calling on a group of stiffs either, with starters Gary Johnson (12.1, 7.1) and Tristan Thompson (13.1, 7.7) more than able to make some things happen on both ends of the floor.

Add in Alexis Wangmene and Matt Hill off the bench and the Longhorns have enough bodies to match up man for man with Kansas inside. But foul trouble is the variable (injury notwithstanding), so whichever team encounters this issue early could have a problem. But Texas also has a wing in Jordan Hamilton who's been outstanding this season, most recently hitting Texas A&M for 27 points on 10-for-14 shooting from the field. The sophomore averages 19.7 points per game on the season and for those who think he's a scorer and nothing more you don't just walk into 7.1 rebounds per game. The question for the Jayhawks is how they go about guarding Hamilton, and they have some options in this area. Tyshawn Taylor gives up a few inches but he did a good job of making LaceDarius Dunn work for his points on Monday night, so this could be his matchup to start. It's difficult to see either Brady Morningstar of Tyrel Reed getting the call but Marcus Morris or Mario Little are possibilities in addition to Taylor.

Kansas brings along a tough defensive matchup as well, and that would be freshman guard Josh Selby. The Baltimore native is averaging 12.1 points per game in his nine games thus far, and while possessing the explosive ability to make things happen offensively he's been a bit inconsistent over his last five games. A solid double-digit effort has been followed by a quiet outing and if the trend holds Saturday could be a tough day at the office. But big-time players step up in big-time games as the saying goes, meaning that it should be a safe bet that he plays well. Texas can put defensive dynamo Dogus Balbay on him, and that could make things tough offensively for Selby. Kansas needs impressive showing from Selby and Taylor if they're to defend their home court, and the same goes for the likes of J'Covan Brown, freshman Cory Joseph and Jai Lucas.

Offensive efficiency will more than likely decide the outcome in Lawrence with both teams allowing opponents to shoot 37% from the field. Kansas shoots an exceptional 52.4% from the field with the ability to get the ball inside being of great benefit to the Jayhawks offensively. They're the better offensive team of these two in nearly every facet of the game, meaning that Texas has to exercise good decision-making in regards to their shot selection. Rushed, challenged shots are the recipe for getting blown out of Allen Fieldhouse from the start for any team regardless of ranking. But Texas has been the better team in regards to taking care of the basketball with a turnover percentage of just 17.2% (Kansas has a percentage of 19.9%), and that along with shot selection will be the ticket for the Longhorns if they're to win the game. While neither team will be in dire straits with a loss, a victory puts the winner in the driver's seat for the time being in the Big 12 race.

There are a number of important contests on the schedule for Saturday, beginning with both Villanova and Syracuse looking to avoid falling a possible two games behind first-place Pittsburgh in the loss column. Kris Joseph, who missed Monday night's loss at Pitt due to a head injury suffered last week against Cincinnati, is expected to play for the Orange but with head injuries so unpredictable how many points he provides is an unknown at this point. For Villanova they need Corey Stokes to play well; he's been quiet of late and they've either struggled offensively or lost as a result. The Big Ten race will also have a lot decided on Saturday with Illinois hosting Ohio State and Michigan State visiting Purdue. The last thing any of the other three teams want is for the Buckeyes to end up two game ahead of the competition at this stage in the race, because another road victory for Thad Matta's team could signal the end of the race.

The most important game in regards to the NCAA Tournament field could actually be in the Mountain West with New Mexico visiting UNLV. The Rebels, who have some solid non-conference results, are struggling due to a lack of consistency on offense combined with the recent knee injury for Tre'Von Willis. Chace Stanback, Anthony Marshall and Oscar Bellfield are just three of the players that Lon Kruger needs to get going (and soon). The same goes for New Mexico's Dairese Gary, who they need to score in addition to set up his young teammates, and the Lobos right now are well out of the at-large picture. The winner stays alive while the loser suffers a fourth conference loss and could be on life support, with that diagnosis being generous. Also in the Mountain West is an upset possibility for Tim Miles' Colorado State club, who hosts BYU in Fort Collins. The Rams have yet to beat one of the top four teams in the league since Miles' arrival but this program is on the rise, and the opportunity to host a Top 10 club in a sold-out arena doesn't come every day. Bruce Pearl makes his one-game return to coach the Volunteers at Connecticut, and this is the kind of game that the Vols end up winning (then lose to a bad team shortly thereafter). Also keep an eye on Kansas State/Texas A&M (Wildcats need a win), Temple/Xavier (critical Atlantic 10 matchup) and Boston College/Florida State (another game to help figure out the ACC pecking order).

Top 25
12:00 PM (1) Ohio State at (22) Illinois (CBS)
4:00 PM (11) Texas at (2) Kansas (CBS)
12:00 PM (7) Villanova at (3) Syracuse (ESPN)
4:00 PM (4) Pittsburgh at DePaul (ESPN3)
4:00 PM (5) Duke at Wake Forest (ESPN)
2:00 PM Tennessee at (8) Connecticut (CBS)
9:00 PM (9) BYU at Colorado State (The Mtn.)
2:00 PM (24) Kansas State at (10) Texas A&M (ESPN)
6:00 PM (12) Kentucky at South Carolina (ESPN)
9:00 PM (18) Michigan State at (13) Purdue (ESPN)
9:00 PM Iowa State at (14) Missouri (ESPNU)
5:00 PM (15) Louisville at Providence (ESPNU)
7:00 PM Marquette at (16) Notre Dame (ESPN3)
7:00 PM (19) Minnesota at Michigan (BTN)
4:00 PM Arizona State at (20) Washington (FSN)
2:00 PM (21) Saint Mary's at Vanderbilt
10:30 PM (25) Arizona at Washington State

NCAA Division I Games
11:00 AM George Mason at James Madison (ESPNU)
12:00 PM Richmond at Massachusetts
12:00 PM Georgia Tech at Virginia (ESPN3)
12:00 PM Rutgers at Seton Hall (ESPN3)
1:00 PM Lehigh at Lafayette
1:00 PM Arkansas-Little Rock at Florida Atlantic (ESPN2)
1:00 PM Eastern Kentucky at Morehead State (ESPNU)
1:30 PM Colorado at Oklahoma (ESPN3)
1:45 PM Mississippi at LSU (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Stanford at UCLA (CBS)
2:00 PM Brown at Yale
2:00 PM St. Bonaventure at George Washington
2:00 PM American University at Holy Cross
2:00 PM Dartmouth at Harvard
2:00 PM La Salle at Rhode Island
2:00 PM Wright State at Cleveland State (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Northeastern at Drexel
2:00 PM Charlotte at Duquesne
2:00 PM Delaware at Georgia State
2:00 PM Loyola (MD) at Marist
2:00 PM Northern Illinois at Western Michigan
2:00 PM Hofstra at William & Mary
2:00 PM Samford at Wofford
2:30 PM Clemson at Maryland
3:00 PM Buffalo at Ohio (ESPN3)
3:00 PM McNeese State at Northwestern State
3:00 PM Southern Miss at Southern Methodist
3:00 PM Tulsa at Tulane
3:00 PM Temple at Xavier (ESPN2)
3:15 PM Stetson at Campbell
3:30 PM Wyoming at Air Force (The Mtn.)
3:30 PM Fairleigh Dickinson at Central Connecticut State
4:00 PM Boston University at Hartford (ESPN3)
4:00 PM Mississippi State at Georgia (ESPN3)
4:00 PM Appalachian State at Charleston (ESPN3)
4:00 PM Oklahoma State at Baylor (ESPN3)
4:00 PM VCU at Old Dominion
4:00 PM Illinois-Chicago at Loyola (IL)
4:00 PM New Mexico at UNLV (Versus)
4:00 PM Cal Poly at Cal State Northridge
4:00 PM Cincinnati at St. John's (ESPN3)
4:00 PM Monmouth at Bryant
4:30 PM Columbia at Cornell
4:30 PM Chattanooga at Furman
4:30 PM Hampton at Bethune-Cookman
4:30 PM Morgan State at Delaware State
4:30 PM Coppin State at Maryland-Eastern Shore
4:30 PM North Florida at Mercer
4:30 PM Charleston Southern at UNC Asheville
4:30 PM Southeastern Louisiana at Nicholls State
4:30 PM South Carolina State at North Carolina A&T
5:00 PM Creighton at Missouri State (ESPN2)
5:30 PM NJIT at Chicago State
5:30 PM Prairie View A&M at Mississippi Valley State
6:00 PM Alabama at Auburn (ESPN3)
6:00 PM Oregon at Oregon State (FSN)
6:00 PM Navy at Army
6:00 PM Portland at Santa Clara
6:00 PM Utah at TCU (The Mtn.)
6:30 PM Howard at Florida A&M
6:30 PM Southern at Alabama State
6:30 PM North Carolina Central at Norfolk State
7:00 PM Memphis at UAB (ESPN2)
7:00 PM Boston College at Florida State (ESPNU)
7:00 PM Quinnipiac at Mount St. Mary's
7:00 PM Saint Joseph's at Pennsylvania
7:00 PM Longwood at Virginia Tech
7:00 PM East Carolina at Marshall
7:00 PM Stony Brook at Maine
7:00 PM Colgate at Bucknell
7:00 PM Rice at UCF
7:00 PM Fordham at Dayton
7:00 PM Georgia Southern at Elon
7:00 PM Coastal Carolina at Gardner-Webb
7:00 PM Radford at Presbyterian
7:00 PM St. Francis (NY) at Robert Morris
7:00 PM Long Island at St. Francis (PA)
7:00 PM Texas-Arlington at Stephen F. Austin
7:00 PM Western Carolina at Citadel
7:00 PM Ball State at Toledo
7:00 PM Sacred Heart at Wagner
7:00 PM High Point at Winthrop
7:05 PM Detroit at Youngstown State
7:30 PM Cal State Bakersfield at San Diego
7:30 PM Jacksonville at Kennesaw State
7:30 PM Bowling Green at Akron
7:30 PM Alcorn State at Alabama A&M
7:30 PM Eastern Illinois at Tennessee-Martin
7:30 PM Nebraska at Texas Tech (ESPN3)
7:30 PM Jackson State at Grambling State
8:00 PM Arkansas at Florida (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Troy at Western Kentucky
8:00 PM UTEP at Houston
8:00 PM Sam Houston State at Texas A&M-CC
8:00 PM Denver at Middle Tennessee
8:00 PM Gonzaga at San Francisco
8:00 PM Texas State at Texas-San Antonio
8:05 PM Western Illinois at UMKC
8:05 PM Centenary at Oral Roberts (ESPN3)
8:05 PM Louisiana-Monroe at Louisiana-Lafayette
8:05 PM Central Arkansas at Lamar
8:05 PM Drake at Northern Iowa (ESPN3)
8:05 PM Northern Arizona at Portland State
8:05 PM Indiana State at Wichita State
8:30 PM Arkansas State at North Texas
8:30 PM Oakland at North Dakota State
8:30 PM IPFW at South Dakota State
8:35 PM Florida International at South Alabama
8:45 PM Southeast Missouri State at Murray State
8:45 PM Jacksonville State at Austin Peay
8:45 PM Texas-Pan American at Houston Baptist
9:00 PM Towson at UNC Wilmington (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Texas Southern at Arkansas-Pine Bluff
9:00 PM Tennessee Tech at Tennessee State
9:05 PM Montana State at Montana
9:05 PM UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Fullerton
9:05 PM Weber State at Northern Colorado
9:30 PM Utah Valley at South Dakota
9:30 PM IUPUI at Southern Utah
10:00 PM Boise State at Idaho (ESPN3)
10:00 PM Long Beach State at UC Irvine
10:00 PM Pacific at UC Davis
10:00 PM Loyola Marymount at Pepperdine
10:05 PM Eastern Washington at Sacramento State
10:30 PM Louisiana Tech at Nevada
11:00 PM California at USC
11:00 PM New Mexico State at Utah State (ESPNU)
12:00 AM San Jose State at Hawaii

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