College Hoops Wednesday: Your Commentary

December 8th, 2010
Eleven games involving Top 25 teams are on the schedule for tonight, with the lone meeting of ranked teams taking place in the second game of the SEC/Big East Invitational doubleheader at Freedom Hall. Notre Dame, winners of the Old Spice Classic, takes on a Kentucky team that's coming off of a close loss at North Carolina over the weekend. While many are obsessing over the question as to whether or not the school's appeal of Enes Kanter's suspension is upheld, the true concern for John Calipari's team right now may be the play at the point despite that lack of frontcourt depth. Brandon Knight was given the keys to the offense from the moment he arrived on campus, but in terms of running the show there have been growing pains against a tough non-conference schedule as he averages 4.7 turnovers per game.

The Wildcats have essentially gone seven deep to this point in the season with four players scoring in double figures, but given the fact that they traditionally like to play fast the lack of bodies has had an impact on their performance late in close games. Terrence Jones was the breakout performer in Maui but struggled against North Carolina while Doron Lamb led the way offensively on Saturday off the bench. Mike Brey's team doesn't play as fast as they have in previous seasons but defensively they do a good job of making their opponents work on every possession. Notre Dame opponents are shooting just 38% from the floor this season and have an offensive efficiency of 90.3. Kentucky isn't far off from last season in regards to possessions per game (69.6 to 70.7) but they're shooting just 46.3% on the season thus far (they shot 55% last year).

Notre Dame will need to limit the number of good looks the Wildcats get from the field, forcing them into hurried, contested shots at the end of the shot clock. Ben Hansbrough and Tim Abromaitis will be called upon to lead the way offensively for the Fighting Irish, who assist on more than 68% of their made baskets and they've done a good job of using the foul line (27.4% of their points come from the charity stripe). If Abromaitis, Scott Martin, Tyrone Nash and Carleton Scott can control the boards for Notre Dame they'll have a good chance of winning in front of what should be a pro-Kentucky crowd. The Wildcats will need to get Jones and Knight untracked while avoiding foul trouble in the frontcourt, and if they get good shots look for them to shoot a good percentage from the field.

Other games to keep an eye on include the first game of the doubleheader at Freedom Hall, which matches Arkansas and Seton Hall. The Pirates finally had a little time to reconfigure things without Jeremy Hazell but their offensive discipline will be tested by a Razorbacks squad that will look to push the basketball. Rotnei Clarke and Delvon Johnson have led the way offensively for John Pelphrey's team, which stands at 4-1 on the season. But if the Pirates, who have played the tougher schedule to date, can force the Razorbacks to play out of control while maintaining theirs they become the favorite to leave Freedom Hall with a win. Vanderbilt going to Missouri is another very good matchup on the schedule, with the Commodores boasting the tandem of John Jenkins and Jeffrey Taylor in addition to SEC Player of the Week Festus Ezeli. Brad Tinsley could be the most important player for them however as they need to take care of the basketball if they're to win in Columbia. Providence meets Boston College in a matchup of former conference foes off to surprising starts, and San Diego State heads north to take on California in Berkeley.

Top 25
9:00 PM Bradley at (1) Duke (ESPN2)
7:00 PM Delaware State at (3) Pittsburgh (ESPN3)
7:30 PM Fairleigh Dickinson at (6) Connecticut (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Vanderbilt at (11) Missouri (ESPNU)
7:00 PM (12) Villanova at Pennsylvania (CSN)
10:30 PM (15) San Diego State at California (CSN-CA)
9:30 PM (23) Notre Dame vs. (16) Kentucky* (ESPN)
8:00 PM Oakland at (17) Illinois (BTN)
10:00 PM Boise State at (19) UNLV (The Mtn.)
7:00 PM (20) Minnesota at Saint Joseph's
7:00 PM Vermont at (21) Brigham Young (CBSC)

NCAA Division I Games
6:00 PM Toledo at IPFW
7:00 PM Seton Hall vs. Arkansas* (ESPN2)
7:00 PM Towson at George Washington
7:00 PM San Francisco at Louisville (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Providence at Boston College
7:00 PM Rhode Island at Northeastern
7:00 PM Maine at Massachusetts
7:00 PM Western Kentucky at Bowling Green
7:00 PM NJIT at Lafayette
7:00 PM North Carolina at Evansville (ESPNU)
7:00 PM Hofstra at Binghamton
7:00 PM Niagara at Buffalo
7:00 PM Kentucky Christian at Eastern Kentucky
7:00 PM Manhattan at Fordham
7:00 PM Loyola (MD) at George Mason
7:00 PM Delaware at Hampton
7:00 PM Princeton at Monmouth
7:00 PM Hartford at Sacred Heart
7:00 PM High Point at Tennessee Tech
7:00 PM Detroit at Western Michigan
7:00 PM Air Force at Wright State
7:00 PM Yale at Bryant
7:30 PM UNC Greensboro at Maryland
7:30 PM Loyola-New Orleans at Nicholls State
7:30 PM UMBC at Rider
7:30 PM Voorhees at South Carolina State
7:30 PM Virginia Military at Virginia Commonwealth
8:00 PM Alcorn State at Nebraska
8:00 PM Prairie View A&M at Texas A&M (ESPN3)
8:00 PM DePaul at Indiana State
8:00 PM Tennessee-Martin at Central Arkansas
8:00 PM Ball State at Eastern Illinois
8:00 PM Drake at Eastern Michigan
8:00 PM Iona at Long Island
8:00 PM SIU-Edwardsville at Loyola (IL)
8:00 PM North Texas at Sam Houston State
8:00 PM Mayville State at South Dakota State
8:00 PM TCU at Texas Tech
8:00 PM Culver-Stockton at Western Illinois
8:05 PM Southeast Missouri State at Southern Illinois
8:05 PM Utah Valley at UMKC
8:05 PM Ohio at Illinois State
8:05 PM Duquesne at Green Bay
8:30 PM Cal State Fullerton at Arizona
8:30 PM Milwaukee at Wisconsin
8:35 PM Texas-Pan American at Northern Arizona
9:00 PM Oklahoma State at Tulsa
10:00 PM Colorado State at Colorado
10:00 PM Denver at Saint Mary's
11:00 PM Gonzaga at Washington State (FSN NW)