College Hoops Wednesday: Your Commentary

December 1st, 2010
Wednesday is the final day of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and with a 4-2 lead following Tuesday's action all the Big Ten needs in order to win the competition for a second consecutive season is two victories. Will one of those two wins come at Cameron Indoor Stadium? That's the question that the Michigan State Spartans hope to answer in the affirmative in the marquee game of the event. Tom Izzo's team won two of three at the Maui Invitational (losing to eventual champion Connecticut), returning home to beat Tennessee Tech with an effort that left the coach less than pleased. Can Kalin Lucas and company ramp up their performance to the level needed to leave Cameron with a win? The experience is there for Michigan State, given the presence of tested vets such as Lucas, Durrell Summers, Draymond Green and Delvon Roe just to name four players.

But to go into Duke's home building and leave with a win is something that rarely happens (they've won 80 straight). What will Michigan State need to do in order to win? Most importantly they'll need to be more efficient offensively than they have been through six games. 23.1% of their possessions end in a turnover, a number that has to be a concern since Spartan opponents have a turnover rate of 21.5%. Duke, who has already taken care of Marquette and Kansas State, forces turnovers on 24% of their opponents' possessions. That's where Michigan State cannot afford to hand over scoring opportunities, because when considering the number of offensive weapons the Blue Devils have things can go downhill in a hurry if you're not careful. Five Duke players average at least 11 points per game with seniors Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler leading the way, and as a team they shoot over 50% from the field and 44% from three.

Michigan State opponents on the season shoot 35.6% from beyond the arc and the Spartans will need to be at their best on perimeter closeouts if they're to avoid a blitzkrieg in Durham. While it sounds strange, especially considering the pedigree of freshman point guard Kyrie Irving, Michigan State may be best served making Duke beat them one-on-one offensively. Add in some solid contributors in the frontcourt (Mason Plumlee chief among them) and two more dead-eye shooters in Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins, and Duke has a multitude of weapons to stretch the Michigan State defense with. In most statistical categories the Blue Devils have been the better team, which shouldn't come as a surprise. But if there's anyone on the schedule who would have a chance at leaving Cameron with a win it would be Michigan State given their experience and the desire to improve on their play of late.

That matchup follows a huge tilt in Blacksburg between Purdue and Virginia Tech, with the home team needing a marquee non-conference victory while the visitors are looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss in their last outing. The Boilermakers shot just 30.2% from the field in the loss to Richmond on Saturday night, and the play of E'Twaun Moore will go a long way in determining how good Matt Painter's team can be without Robbie Hummel (Moore shot 4 for 17 on Saturday). Virginia Tech is coming into the game with a similar request of their number two scorer: Dorenzo Hudson missed all seven of his field goal attempts in their loss to UNLV in the 76 Classic final and point blank neither team can consistently navigate such poor performances from players of their importance.

Other games to keep an eye on include Saint Mary's visiting San Diego State in a matchup of two of the better teams on the West Coast, two Mountain West/Missouri Valley matchups (UNLV/Illinois State and BYU/Creighton), Richmond visiting Old Dominion in a matchup of two teams who could be at-large candidates come March and NC State visiting Wisconsin. For a conference game, keep an eye on Butler's trip to Loyola (IL) as they'll once again be without starting point guard Ronald Nored (concussion symptoms). With the Ramblers returning the top six players in their rotation from a season ago (all five starters) they definitely have a chance of getting off to a 1-0 start in the Horizon League at the expense of the Bulldogs.

Top 25
9:30 PM (6) Michigan State at (1) Duke (ESPN)
9:15 PM Duquesne vs. (3) Pittsburgh* (ESPNU)
8:00 PM Arkansas State at (15) Memphis
7:00 PM (16) Florida at UCF (ESPN3)
7:30 PM (18) Purdue at Virginia Tech (ESPN)
10:30 PM Saint Mary's at (19) San Diego State (The Mtn.)
8:00 PM Lamar at (20) Texas (ESPN3)
8:05 PM (23) UNLV at Illinois State
8:05 PM (25) Brigham Young at Creighton

NCAA Division I Games
7:00 PM Virginia Commonwealth at South Florida (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Florida International at Louisville (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Fordham at Harvard
7:00 PM Western Michigan at Towson
7:00 PM Charlotte at East Carolina
7:00 PM Xavier at Miami (OH)
7:00 PM Elon at Furman
7:00 PM Dartmouth at Vermont
7:00 PM American University at West Virginia (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Richmond at Old Dominion
7:00 PM Susquehanna University at Lafayette
7:00 PM Buffalo at Army
7:00 PM Florida Christian College at Bethune-Cookman
7:00 PM Columbia at Bucknell
7:00 PM Temple at Central Michigan
7:00 PM Wright State at Cincinnati
7:00 PM East Tennessee State at Dayton
7:00 PM Akron at Detroit
7:00 PM Saint Joseph's at Drexel
7:00 PM George Washington at George Mason
7:00 PM James Madison at Longwood
7:00 PM Washington Adventist at North Carolina Central
7:00 PM Northeastern at Providence
7:00 PM Massachusetts at Quinnipiac
7:00 PM Delaware State at South Carolina
7:00 PM Wagner at St. John's
7:00 PM Lehigh at Stony Brook
7:00 PM SIU-Edwardsville at Tennessee Tech
7:00 PM Howard at William & Mary
7:15 PM Indiana at Boston College (ESPNU)
7:15 PM North Carolina State at Wisconsin (ESPN2)
7:30 PM N.J.I.T. at Rutgers
8:00 PM Jacksonville State at UAB
8:00 PM Oklahoma at Arkansas (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Drake at Colorado State
8:00 PM Jackson State at Nebraska
8:00 PM Central Arkansas at Oklahoma State
8:00 PM Wyoming at South Dakota
8:00 PM Arizona at Rice
8:00 PM St. Edwards at Texas A&M-CC
8:00 PM Southern Methodist at Louisiana Tech
8:00 PM Butler at Loyola (IL) (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Louisiana-Lafayette at McNeese State
8:00 PM Iowa State at Northern Iowa (ESPN3)
8:00 PM St. Thomas (TX) at Sam Houston State
8:00 PM Alcorn State at Southern Miss
8:00 PM Prairie View A&M at TCU
8:05 PM New Mexico at Southern Illinois
8:05 PM Arkansas-Little Rock at Missouri State
8:05 PM Chicago State at Wichita State
8:30 PM South Alabama at Alabama
8:45 PM Dillard at Southeastern Louisiana
9:00 PM Western Kentucky at Vanderbilt (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Utah State at Denver
9:15 PM Maryland at Penn State (ESPN2)
10:00 PM Hawaii at Cal Poly
10:00 PM Utah Valley at Oregon State
10:00 PM UC Irvine at San Diego
10:00 PM Holy Names at San Francisco
10:00 PM Loyola Marymount at UC Santa Barbara
10:05 PM Seattle at Portland State
10:30 PM UC Davis at California
10:30 PM Pepperdine at Pacific