College Hoops Friday: Your Commentary

November 25th, 2011

Tommy Amaker's Harvard Crimson came into this season loaded, with all five starters and many of their key reserves back looking get to the NCAA Tournament. After blowing out Utah on Thursday night the Crimson will take on a far stiffer challenge on Friday afternoon, as Florida State is one of the best half-court defensive teams in the country. This will offer an interesting contrast, as Harvard is one of the better teams in the country when it comes to points per possession.

Point guard Oliver McNally leads the way for a team that averages 1.17 points per possession (22nd nationally), but he and his teammates will encounter a defense that's allowing just 0.77 points per possession (17th nationally). The Seminoles are also tops in the country in three-point percentage defense and rank in the top ten in both field goal percentage and effective field goal percentage defense. Leonard Hamilton's team is athletic, and they use that to their advantage on the defensive end. There may not be a Chris Singleton-like player on this year's team, but veterans such as Bernard James continue to make life difficult for the opposition. 

The strength for Harvard can be found in the frontcourt, where Kyle Casey and Keith Wright average a combined 27.0 points and 12.3 rebounds per game. Casey's healthy after having to deal with nagging injuries for much of his sophomore season, and this tandem can cause problems for James, Jon Kreft and the rest of the Florida State frontcourt. Harvard's also got a very good scorer off the bench in Laurent Rivard, and they've played ten players in each of their four games.

The question for the Seminoles: how efficient can they be on the offensive end? Luke Loucks has been the guy given the responsibility of being the primary ball-handler, and he turned the ball over six times in the win over UMass. As a team FSU finished with 22 turnovers, but they won comfortably because of their play on the defensive end. Loucks, Ian Miller and Michael Snear need to make solid decisions with the basketball, because on the season FSU has a turnover percentage of 26%.

The game will likely be decided in two areas: offensive efficency and turnover percentage. The team that gets more value out of their possessions will win, simply because of how solid both teams are when it comes to their points allowed per possession numbers. Also in the Bahamas is the matchup between Connecticut and UCF, with the Huskies still waiting for last year's Alex Oriakhi to show up. He was removed from the starting lineup in favor of freshman Andre Drummond, and the sophomore needs to show that he's worthy of regaining his job. UCF's Keith Clanton will provide a good challenge for the UConn big men as he can play both inside and out.

Stanford could strike a much-needed blow for the Pac-12 with a win over Syracuse in the NIT Season Tipoff title game, but given the way in which guards Dion Waiters and Brandon Triche played on Wednesday night that will be much easier said than done. There's also semifinal action in both the Old Spice Classic and 76 Classic, with Saint Louis getting another shot at an opponent from a BCS AQ conference. Rick Majerus' team, which plays Villanova in Anaheim, has already beaten Washington and Boston College this season. The matchup between Kwamain Mitchell and Maalik Wayns will be worth the price of admission.

In Orlando three of the four teams in the winner's bracket hail from non-AQ conferences, with Minnesota being the lone remaining team from a BCS AQ league. They'll get Indiana State, one of the teams expected to contend in the Missouri Valley, while Dayton and Fairfield play in the other semifinal. And the Las Vegas Invitational will play its semifinal games as well, and it would be a surprise of Saturday night's final didn't match UNLV and top-ranked North Carolina.  

Friday's Schedule
Morgan State vs. Cal Poly 11:00 am
Longwood vs. Prairie View A&M 11:30 am
Indiana State vs. Minnesota 12:00 pm (ESPN)
Florida A&M vs. Southern 12:00 pm
Stony Brook at Northwestern 1:00 pm
Mississippi Valley St. vs. Tennessee St. 1:30 pm
James Madison vs. Rider 2:00 pm
UCF vs. (4) Connecticut 2:00pm (HDNet)
Cleveland St. vs. Boston University 2:30 pm
Saint Louis vs. Villanova 2:30 pm (ESPN2)
Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma St. 2:30 pm (ESPN)
Texas Tech vs. DePaul 2:30pm (ESPNU)
UT-Pan American at USC Upstate 3:00 pm
Northern Colo vs. Western Carolina 3:30 pm
Wofford vs. UMKC 3:30 pm
West Alabama vs. Morehead St. 3:30 pm
Miami (Fla.) at Mississippi 4:00 pm (ESPN3)
Navy at Albany 4:00 pm
Dartmouth at Alaska-Anchorage 4:00 pm
Robert Morris vs. La Salle 4:30 pm (CSN Regional)
(20) Florida State vs. Harvard (HDNet)
Cal Poly vs. Morgan St. 5:00 pm
Dayton vs. Fairfield 5:00 pm (ESPN2)
Stanford vs. (5) Syracuse 5:00 pm (ESPN)
San Diego vs. New Orleans 5:30pm
Houston Baptist at Washington 6:00 pm
Central Michigan vs. UC Irvine 6:00pm
BYU vs. Nevada 6:00 pm
Rice vs. Northern Iowa 6:00 pm
Princeton at Bucknell 6:00 pm
UMES vs. Louisiana Tech 6:30 pm
Valparaiso at (3) Ohio St. 6:30 pm (BTN)
Furman at Clemson 7:00 pm
Florida Gulf Coast at Maryland 7:00 pm
Marshall at Cincinnati 7:00 pm
Savannah St. at Chattanooga 7:00 pm
Ohio at (7) Louisville 7:00 pm (ESPN3)
Green Bay at Virginia 7:00 pm (ESPN3)
Jacksonville at (9) Florida 7:00 pm (ESPN3)
Charleston vs. UNC Asheville 7:00 pm
Barber-Scotia at North Carolina A&T 7:00 pm
Jackson St. at North Florida 7:00 pm
Utah Valley at Oakland 7:00 pm
Elon at N.C. State 7:00 pm
(16) Pittsburgh at Penn 7:00 pm (CSN Regional)
Wake Forest vs. Arizona State 7:30 pm (ESPNU)
USC vs. UNLV 7:30 pm (ESPN3)
Georgia at (12) Xavier 8:00 pm (FSN Regional)
Alcorn St. at Tulane 8:00 pm
Lamar at Tennessee Tech 8:00 pm
Nicholls St. at Auburn 8:00 pm
UT-Martin at Mississippi St. 8:00 pm
Chicago St. at Southern Illinois 8:05 pm
Campbell at (25) Creighton 8:05 pm
UAB at Wichita St. 8:05 pm
Providence vs. Iowa St. 8:30 pm
(11) Wisconsin vs. Bradley 8:30 pm (BTN)
Jacksonville St. at Northwestern St. 8:45 pm
Portland St. at Wyoming 9:00 pm
Murray St. vs. San Francisco 9:30 pm (FCS)
New Mexico vs. Washington St. 9:30 pm (ESPNU)
Massachusetts vs. Utah 9:30 pm
Monmouth at (22) Vanderbilt 10:00 pm
South Carolina vs. (1) North Carolina 10:00 pm (ESPN2)
Santa Clara vs. Oklahoma 12:00 am (ESPN2)
New Mexico State vs. Southern Miss 12:00 am (FCS)
Pacific at Hawaii 12:30 am