#14 Georgetown vs. Connecticut: Wednesday's Preview

    
January 31st, 2012
While both Connecticut (14-6, 4-4) and #14 Georgetown (16-4, 6-3) enter Wednesday night's contest off of losses over the weekend, the feelings regarding each program are drastically different at this time. John Thompson III's Hoyas have been one of the Big East's pleasant surprises, thanks in large part to some veteran leaders and a young group of players who have shown themselves to be ready for Big East play. UConn on the other hand has been one of the more disappointing teams in conference play, and their 50-48 loss to Notre Dame on Sunday has sparked major changes to their starting lineup.

Head coach Jim Calhoun announced the changes on Tuesday, with freshman guard Ryan Boatright (9.8 ppg, 3.4 apg) and sophomore forward Roscoe Smith (3.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg) moving in while Shabazz Napier (14.3 ppg, 6.1 apg) and Alex Oriakhi (6.5 rpg, 4.9 rpg) will come off the bench. Frankly the Huskies need a spark, and the hope is that these moves will provide that boost. Clearly a lot was lost with the departure of Kemba Walker but just as important as the tangible contributions were Walker's intangibles, which have proven to be difficult to account for. Regardless of a team's skill set it's difficult to win consistently without emotion, and that's been a lesson the Huskies have learned quite often in recent games.

What's interesting about these two teams is that they're practically even when it comes to offensive efficiency with the Huskies at 109.0 and Georgetown at 109.2, and both are shooting 47% from the field. But the Hoyas are averaging nearly two more points per game and their scoring balance is likely one of the reasons why. All seven of Georgetown's leaders in minutes per game shoot at least 46% from the field with wing Hollis Thompson (13.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg) leading the way at 50.7%. Georgetown's system, which more times than not is initiated by center Henry Sims (11.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.6 apg), has opened up passing lanes and quality shot opportunities for much of the season and they've taken advantage.

UConn on the other hand has relied more on one-on-one play to get their shots, a situation that turned downright ugly on Sunday afternoon. Jeremy Lamb (17.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg) leads the way offensively with Napier second on the team in scoring, and while that was expected to be the case before the season began the spacing and ball movement haven't been what is generally expected of teams pegged to contend for championships. And with Georgetown likely to employ a zone defense to take advantage of these issues, Connecticut had better improve in this area if they're to leave the nation's capital with a win.

The youngsters could tip the scales in one direction or the other at the Verizon Center, and one who has played very well is Georgetown's Otto Porter. Porter (8.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) leads the Hoyas in rebounds and while he hasn't strung together consecutive double-digit scoring outings since November in the Maui Invitational there's no denying his improvement. If Boatright performs well as the starter and vets Napier and Oriakhi respond positively to their move to the bench UConn can win and turn things around. Talent-wise the Huskies are more than capable of doing so, but are capable when it comes to the intangibles? We'll get that answer on Wednesday. 

Indiana visits Michigan in the night's lone matchup of ranked teams, with the Hoosiers looking to remain in the top half of the conference standings while Michigan needs a win to remain a game out of first in the loss column. The two frontrunners for Big Ten Rookie of the Year will also be on display, with Indiana's Cody Zeller and Michigan's Trey Burke being the focus. The outcome could ultimately be decided by veterans such as IU's Jordan Hulls and Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. Colorado State looks to build on their win over San Diego State win a win at UNLV, but look for the Runnin' Rebels to be fired up given the fact that the Rams won in Las Vegas last season. And the top two teams in Conference USA as Southern Miss hosts Memphis, and the hope for the home folks has to be that Larry Eustachy's bunch can finally beat Memphis.  

 

Top 25 Games
9:00 PM (6) Baylor at Texas A&M
9:00 PM Oklahoma at (8) Kansas
8:05 PM Illinois State at (12) Creighton (ESPN3)
10:30 PM Colorado State at (13) UNLV (The Mtn.)
7:00 PM Connecticut at (14) Georgetown (ESPN2)
10:15 PM Boise State at (17) San Diego State (CBS SN)
6:30 PM (20) Indiana at (22) Michigan (BTN)
7:00 PM Georgia Tech at (24) Florida State (ESPN3)

NCAA Division I Games
7:00 PM Xavier at George Washington (FCS)
7:00 PM George Mason at Delaware
7:00 PM Oakland at IUPUI
7:00 PM Vermont at Boston University
7:00 PM Drexel at Northeastern
7:00 PM SMU at East Carolina
7:00 PM Hartford at New Hampshire
7:00 PM Eastern Michigan at Miami (OH)
7:00 PM Fordham at Temple
7:00 PM Massachusetts at Rhode Island
7:00 PM Davidson at Furman
7:00 PM Saint Joseph's at Richmond
7:00 PM Tulane at Marshall
7:00 PM Georgia State at UNC Wilmington
7:00 PM UMBC at Albany
7:00 PM Toledo at Akron (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Ball State at Buffalo
7:00 PM Duquesne at Dayton
7:00 PM Towson at Hofstra
7:00 PM Charlotte at La Salle
7:00 PM Rutgers at Providence (ESPNU)
7:00 PM Binghamton at Stony Brook
7:00 PM Bowling Green at Western Michigan
7:00 PM VCU at William & Mary
7:00 PM Colgate at N.J.I.T.
7:30 PM Texas A&M-CC at Nicholls State
8:00 PM Georgia at Auburn (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Evansville at Bradley
8:00 PM NC State at Boston College (ESPN3)
8:00 PM St. Bonaventure at Saint Louis
8:00 PM UTEP at Rice
8:00 PM Drake at Indiana State (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Northwestern State at Central Arkansas
8:00 PM Maryland at Miami (FL) (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Ohio at Northern Illinois
8:00 PM McNeese State at Sam Houston State
8:00 PM Lamar at Southeastern Louisiana
8:00 PM Memphis at Southern Miss (CBS SN)
8:00 PM Texas State at Stephen F. Austin
8:00 PM Wyoming at TCU (The Mtn.)
8:05 PM Wichita State at Missouri State
8:30 PM Cal State Bakersfield at New Mexico State (ESPN3)
8:30 PM St. John's at DePaul (ESPN3)
8:30 PM Grambling State at Alabama State
8:30 PM Minnesota at Iowa (BTN)
9:00 PM Houston at UAB
9:00 PM UTSA at Texas-Arlington