College Hoops Wednesday: Your Commentary

January 26th, 2011
First place in the Mountain West is on the line in Provo as undefeated San Diego State (20-0, 5-0) visits BYU (19-1, 5-0). The Aztecs will also take on history tonight, as they've beaten BYU just once in Provo since the inception of the Mountain West (59-57 in 2005) with that victory being part of their only season sweep of the Cougars as MWC members. Two of the best players in America will be on display in BYU point guard Jimmer Fredette (26.7 ppg, 4.4 apg) and San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard (15.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg), but these aren't the only two outstanding players who will be on display. Jackson Emery may be one of the nation's most underrated players, averaging 13.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. But ask UNLV about the senior guard, who hit them up for 22 in BYU's 89-77 win at the Thomas & Mack Center back on January 15th. Emery's averaged 17.7 points per game in the Cougars' last three contests, and too much focus on Fredette could lead to Emery burning the opposition.

The Aztecs boast a talented frontcourt with Malcolm Thomas (11.9, 8.1) and Billy White (9.7, 3.4) just two of the contributors outside of Leonard. Both are active on both ends of the floor, with White owning a 30-point performance at the expense of Gonzaga and Thomas reaching double figures in 13 of SDSU's 20 games. Add in Brian Carlwell and Tim Shelton to the rotation and San Diego State has the depth to give Brandon Davies (11.3, 5.6), Noah Hartsock (9.8, 5.8) and company problems inside. SDSU has a rebounding margin of plus-6.5 on the season (and an offensive rebounding percentage of 38.3%), and while not a great deal higher than BYU's advantage (plus-4.3) those numbers are posted in different styles of play. The Cougars average 73 possessions per game, ten more than the Aztecs. The more possessions the lesser the impact that rebounding can have on a game in most cases, so keep an eye on tempo tonight. If Fredette and company can find good looks early in the shot clock and get the crowd at the Marriott Center involved this becomes their kind of game.

These teams have similar efficiency ratings offensively while averaging 1.16 points per possession, but the way in which they get their points displays the difference in philosophy. San Diego State scores 58.6% of their points on two-point shots, but don't be fooled into thinking that the Aztecs can't shoot from the perimeter. D.J. Gay, who got white-hot in the win at New Mexico, and James Rahon are both shooting over 40% from three and Chase Tapley is knocking them down at a 37% clip. BYU gets 30.5% of their points from three thanks in large part to Fredette and Emery. But Davies and Hartsock can get it done inside, and freshman Kyle Collinsworth will also provide some scoring from the wing. Collinsworth has reached double figures in each of the last three games, including 16 in BYU's win at Colorado State on Saturday. Rebounding and how the Aztecs manage the tempo will determine the outcome in this matchup of Top 10 teams, but while watching also keep in mind that both teams are more than just one player outfits. That's what makes both dangerous clubs in the month of March.

In other contests Texas visits Oklahoma State in what should be an emotional night for the home team, who will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the tragic plane crash that took the lives of ten members of the OSU basketball family and community. Thankfully the plane issues for Massachusetts (at St. Bonaventure) and North Carolina (at Miami) were properly navigated and those games will go on tonight. A depleted West Virginia visits Louisville while St. John's looks to sweep the season series with rival Georgetown in the Big East, and UCF hopes to right the ship at Memphis. And in the Missouri Valley Creighton visits Northern Iowa in a critical matchup, especially for the Panthers who could still have a run in them to reach the top of the league standings with just two games separating them and first-place Missouri State.

Top 25
10:00 PM (4) San Diego State at (9) BYU (CBS College)
7:00 PM (7) Villanova at Providence (ESPN3)
7:30 PM (8) Texas at Oklahoma State (ESPN)
8:30 PM Northwestern at (18) Minnesota (BTN)
7:00 PM West Virginia at (19) Louisville (ESPNU)
7:00 PM St. John's at (20) Georgetown (ESPN3)

NCAA Division I Games
5:00 PM Lafayette at Army
6:30 PM Iowa at Penn State (BTN)
7:00 PM Southern Miss at East Carolina
7:00 PM Massachusetts at St. Bonaventure
7:00 PM Eastern Michigan at Ohio
7:00 PM Charlotte at Temple
7:00 PM Drexel at James Madison
7:00 PM Charleston at Georgia Southern
7:00 PM Northeastern at UNC Wilmington
7:00 PM Citadel at Davidson
7:00 PM Duquesne at Fordham
7:00 PM Towson at George Mason
7:00 PM Old Dominion at Georgia State
7:00 PM Saint Joseph's at La Salle
7:00 PM Bucknell at Lehigh
7:00 PM Albany at UMBC
7:00 PM American University at Navy
7:00 PM Jacksonville at North Florida
7:00 PM Delaware at William & Mary
7:00 PM George Washington at Xavier
7:05 PM Wichita State at Southern Illinois
7:05 PM Evansville at Indiana State
7:30 PM North Carolina at Miami (FL) (ESPN2)
7:30 PM Akron at Northern Illinois (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Marshall at UAB
8:00 PM Air Force at Colorado State (The Mtn.)
8:00 PM Southern Methodist at Tulsa
8:00 PM UCF at Memphis (CBS College)
8:00 PM Texas A&M-CC at Texas State
8:00 PM Southeastern Louisiana at Central Arkansas
8:00 PM McNeese State at Nicholls State
8:00 PM Stephen F. Austin at Sam Houston State
8:00 PM Murray State at SIU-Edwardsville
8:00 PM LSU at Tennessee (ESPN3)
8:00 PM North Carolina Central at Western Illinois
8:05 PM Illinois State at Bradley
8:05 PM Northwestern State at Lamar
9:00 PM Texas Tech at Iowa State (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Binghamton at Boston University
9:00 PM Rhode Island at Saint Louis
9:00 PM Houston at Rice
9:00 PM Rutgers at Cincinnati (ESPN3)
9:05 PM Creighton at Northern Iowa (ESPNU)
9:05 PM Tulane at UTEP
10:00 PM TCU at New Mexico
10:00 PM Long Beach State at Pacific