College Hoops Tuesday: Your Commentary

March 1st, 2011
Despite an overall record of 19-9 and an SEC record of 11-3 Alabama is still in need of wins to ensure their presence in the field of 68. Why? Further inspection of their schedule provides the reason, with a non-conference schedule that boasts some bad losses and the mixed fortune that comes with playing in the SEC West. On the line tonight is at least a share of the overall SEC title as the Crimson Tide visits Florida (22-6, 11-3) in their lone regular season meeting. The question for Florida is a simple one: can guards Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker be effective in limiting their bad decisions? When that happens the Gators are a tough team to beat, and with Alabama forcing 16 turnovers per game as well as limiting opponents to 37.3% shooting Boynton and Walker will need to be at their best.

Alabama has a very good freshman guard in Trevor Releford, who is second on the team in scoring and first in assists, but the lion's share of their work is done up front by forwards JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell. Those two combine to averages 31.8 points and 14.4 rebounds per game, and senior Chris Hines chips in with 6.4 rebounds per game. However those three will need help on the glass tonight with the Gators being a slightly better rebounding team with a margin of plus-6.1 (Alabama is a plus-3.7). If they can keep the likes of Vernon Macklin, Chandler Parsons, Alex Tyus and Patric Young off the offensive boards the Tide have a chance to leave Gainesville with a victory. But that's far easier said than done, especially for a team that was out-rebounded 35-32 on Saturday at Ole Miss.

Despite the Gators averaging three more points per game it's Alabama who plays more possessions per game, meaning that the Crimson Tide will likely need this to be a somewhat sloppy slugfest if they're to emerge successful. Florida's the more efficient team offensively while Alabama is the best in the SEC when it comes to defensive efficiency so something has to give. If Anthony Grant's big men can avoid early foul trouble and as a team they avoid an early Senior Night blitz, Alabama can win. But those are big ifs, especially the latter given the Tide's occasional issues with turnovers (21.8% turnover percentage). Does Alabama take a large step towards sewing up an NCAA berth, or do they go into Saturday's game against Georgia in desperate need of a win?

Also possessing the ability to make a statement with regards to the NCAA Tournament is Penn State, who hosts top-ranked Ohio State. The Nittany Lions have already taken out Wisconsin in Happy Valley, and senior guard Talor Battle has the ability to take over games if not defended effectively. But can Andrew Jones and company neutralize Jared Sullinger inside? If not it could be a long night for the home team. Vanderbilt and Kentucky meet with the winner likely snatching that second bye for the East in the SEC Tournament. Other games of note include Baylor visiting Oklahoma State and Boston College at Virginia Tech, and conference tournaments in the Big South and Horizon get underway as well.

Top 25
9:00 PM (1) Ohio State at Penn State (BTN)
7:00 PM Illinois at (6) Purdue (ESPN)
10:00 PM (9) San Diego State at Wyoming (The Mtn.)
7:00 PM Alabama at (14) Florida (ESPNU)
9:00 PM (20) Vanderbilt at (23) Kentucky (ESPN)
8:00 PM (24) Missouri at Nebraska (ESPN3)

NCAA Division I Games
7:00 PM Akron at Ohio
7:00 PM Baylor at Oklahoma State (ESPN2)
7:00 PM North Carolina State at Virginia
7:00 PM Gardner-Webb at Coastal Carolina
7:00 PM Illinois-Chicago at Cleveland State
7:00 PM Loyola (IL) at Detroit
7:00 PM High Point at Liberty (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Charleston Southern at UNC Asheville
7:00 PM Central Michigan at Toledo
7:00 PM Winthrop at Virginia Military
7:00 PM Green Bay at Wright State
7:30 PM Kent State at Bowling Green (ESPN3)
7:30 PM New Orleans at Pensacola Christian College
8:00 PM Youngstown State at Valparaiso
8:00 PM Savannah State at Western Illinois
8:30 PM North Texas at Arkansas-Little Rock
9:00 PM Boston College at Virginia Tech (ESPNU)
10:00 PM Seattle at Stanford