College Hoops Saturday: Your Commentary

    
January 14th, 2011
While Saturday brings about the standard fare in regards to a full schedule offering a host of enticing matchups, the game of the day may be #12 Missouri (15-2, 1-1) making the trek to College Station. There await Mark Turgeon's Texas A&M Aggies (15-1, 2-0), one of the hotter teams in America but they've flown a bit under the radar since going 2-1 in the Old Spice Classic. The meeting between the Tigers and Aggies promises to be a battle of tempo, with Mike Anderson's squad looking to ramp things up while A&M is better suited for half-court play. What these two teams do have in common is the fact that their respective defenses define who they are, and the team that can make the game theirs will likely leave Reed Arena with a valuable Big 12 victory.

Texas A&M averages just 65 possessions per game but they do a solid job of maximizing those opportunities, boasting an offensive efficiency of 111.3 and an effective field goal percentage above 50%. Three players average double figures in scoring, and the fact that all three are forwards is an indicator of what the Aggies want to do with the basketball. Khris Middleton (14.8 ppg), David Lobeau (11.4 ppg) and Nathan Walkup (10.3 ppg) are all solid offensive options who shoot at least 49% from the field. While none of the three would be considered a "marquee" scoring option they all understand their strengths and play to them. Naji Hibbert adds around nine points per game off the bench while guards B.J. Holmes and Dash Harris can both attack defenses, although Harris hasn't shot particularly well from the perimeter thus far (26.7% FG, 17.1% 3PT). Holmes and Harris will be critical on Saturday afternoon in dealing with a Missouri defense that forces nineteen turnovers per game (turnover percentage of 25.6%).

The Tigers on the other hand average 75 possessions per game, and despite the sometimes frenetic pace Mike Anderson's club does a very good job of sharing the basketball and limiting their own turnovers. Guard Marcus Denmon has been one of the best players in the Big 12 to this point in the season, averaging 17.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. Denmon is shooting an impressive 51% from the field and 50% from three, and he's just one of five Tigers averaging double figures in scoring. Add in two players in Justin Safford and Matt Pressey who are just above seven points per game and you've got a versatile group who can hurt opponents in a variety of ways. Forwards Laurence Bowers (12.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Ricardo Ratliffe (11.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg) are the main cogs on the boards, and they'll have their work cut out for them as the Aggies are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation (margin of plus-12.0).

Regardless of the tempo that's played in College Station the visitors will need to hold their own on the boards in order to win. Missouri actually has an offensive rebound percentage of 35.1%, but Texas A&M allows opponents to grab just 25% of their missed shots. Add in the Aggies grabbing a startling 42% of their misses and this one could become a methodical beating if the Tigers aren't careful. The question since Thanksgiving weekend has been how good are the Aggies, and while they aren't the best shooting team around the fact that they understand their skill sets and what makes them good may bode well for the future. Keep in mind that West Virginia grabbed around 40% of their misses a season ago, a number that played a large part in the Mountaineers getting to the Final Four.

In other action on Saturday Cincinnati gets another Big East road test, this time taking on undefeated Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. After a slow start at St. John's the Orange work up and took control of that contest, and their 2-3 zone will prove to be formidable for the Bearcats. The key for Mick Cronin's team will be to not settle for the "fool's gold" three that Syracuse will allow you to take. The good news for Cincinnati is that reserve Sean Kilpatrick has played very well this season, doing a good job of finding quality perimeter shots. All four remaining undefeated teams are in action but the one with the toughest challenge could be San Diego State, who visits New Mexico in what should be a charged atmosphere. Add players such as Dairese Gary, Phillip McDonald and Kendall Williams and it would not be a surprise if the Aztecs were to suffer their first loss at The Pit. UCF visits Southern Miss in a matchup of Conference USA contenders, Illinois is at Wisconsin and rivals Dayton and Xavier meeting in an important early Atlantic 10 matchup.

Top 25
2:00 PM Virginia at (1) Duke (ESPN)
5:30 PM Penn State at (2) Ohio State (BTN)
2:00 PM Nebraska at (3) Kansas (ESPNU)
12:00 PM Cincinnati at (4) Syracuse (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Seton Hall at (5) Pittsburgh (ESPN3)
6:00 PM (6) San Diego State at New Mexico (CBS College)
1:00 PM Maryland at (7) Villanova (CBS)
2:00 PM (9) Connecticut at DePaul (ESPN3)
1:00 PM (12) Missouri at (13) Texas A&M (ESPN2)
4:00 PM Oklahoma at (14) Texas (ESPN3)
4:00 PM LSU at (15) Kentucky (ESPN3)
3:00 PM (16) Illinois at (21) Wisconsin (BTN)
11:00 AM Marquette at (17) Louisville (ESPN2)
12:00 PM (19) Georgetown at Rutgers (ESPNU)
1:30 PM Texas Tech at (20) Kansas State (ESPN3)
5:00 PM (22) UCF at Southern Miss
12:00 PM (23) Temple at Duquesne
1:00 PM Northwestern at (24) Michigan State

NCAA Division I Games
12:00 PM Delaware at Towson
12:00 PM Marshall at Memphis
12:00 PM Vanderbilt at Tennessee (ESPN)
12:00 PM Northeastern at VCU
12:00 PM Illinois-Chicago at Green Bay
1:00 PM La Salle at Massachusetts
1:00 PM UMBC at Vermont
1:00 PM Navy at Lafayette
1:30 PM Alabama at Arkansas (ESPN3)
1:30 PM Oklahoma State at Colorado (ESPN3)
1:30 PM South Carolina at Florida (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Harvard at George Washington
2:00 PM Saint Joseph's at Saint Louis
2:00 PM Yale at Brown
2:00 PM Citadel at Charleston
2:00 PM Loyola (IL) at Milwaukee (ESPN3)
2:00 PM Furman at Georgia Southern
2:00 PM Southeastern Louisiana at Texas A&M-CC
2:00 PM Central Michigan at Ball State
2:00 PM American University at Colgate
2:00 PM Georgia State at George Mason
2:00 PM Canisius at Manhattan
2:00 PM Gardner-Webb at UNC Asheville
2:00 PM Niagara at Saint Peter's
2:00 PM New Hampshire at Stony Brook
2:00 PM Appalachian State at Western Carolina
2:30 PM Arizona State at Arizona (FSN)
3:00 PM Nicholls State at Sam Houston State
3:00 PM Houston at Southern Methodist
3:00 PM Jackson State at Texas Southern (ESPN2)
3:15 PM East Tennessee State at Jacksonville
3:30 PM Binghamton at Maine
3:30 PM Bryant at Sacred Heart
3:30 PM Utah at Wyoming (The Mtn.)
4:00 PM North Carolina A&T at Howard
4:00 PM NC State at Florida State (ESPN3)
4:00 PM South Dakota at North Dakota
4:00 PM North Carolina Central at Coppin State
4:00 PM Old Dominion at Hofstra
4:00 PM Texas State at McNeese State
4:00 PM Florida A&M at Maryland-Eastern Shore
4:00 PM Central Connecticut State at Quinnipiac
4:00 PM Austin Peay at Tennessee State (ESPNU)
4:00 PM Houston Baptist at NJIT
4:30 PM Presbyterian at Coastal Carolina
4:30 PM Winthrop at Charleston Southern
4:30 PM Wagner at LIU
4:30 PM Toledo at Northern Illinois
4:30 PM Mount St. Mary's at St. Francis (NY)
5:00 PM Georgia at Mississippi (ESPN3)
5:00 PM Tulane at East Carolina
5:00 PM Northwestern State at Central Arkansas
5:00 PM South Carolina State at Morgan State (ESPN2)
5:00 PM UCLA at Oregon
5:00 PM Eastern Kentucky at Southeast Missouri State
5:00 PM Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Southern University
5:30 PM Tennessee-Martin at Jacksonville State
5:30 PM Mississippi Valley State at Alcorn State
5:30 PM Southern Utah at Centenary
5:30 PM Texas-Pan American at Chicago State
6:00 PM Baylor at Iowa State (ESPN3)
6:00 PM UNLV at Air Force (The Mtn.)
6:00 PM Norfolk State at Hampton
6:00 PM Boston College at Miami (FL) (ESPNU)
6:30 PM Florida International at Denver
7:00 PM South Dakota State at IUPUI
7:00 PM Cornell at Columbia
7:00 PM Kent State at Ohio
7:00 PM Samford at Chattanooga
7:00 PM UNC Wilmington at James Madison
7:00 PM Boston University at Albany
7:00 PM Alabama State at Alabama A&M
7:00 PM Wofford at Davidson
7:00 PM Bethune-Cookman at Delaware State
7:00 PM Morehead State at Eastern Illinois
7:00 PM Virginia Military at High Point
7:00 PM Army at Lehigh
7:00 PM Fordham at Charlotte
7:00 PM USC Upstate at North Florida
7:00 PM Liberty at Radford
7:00 PM Monmouth at Robert Morris
7:00 PM Fairleigh Dickinson at Saint Francis (PA)
7:00 PM Drexel at William & Mary
7:00 PM Oakland at IPFW
7:05 PM Evansville at Illinois State
7:05 PM Cleveland State at Youngstown State
8:00 PM Washington State at Stanford
8:00 PM Michigan at Indiana (BTN)
8:00 PM Florida Atlantic at Western Kentucky
8:00 PM Lamar at Texas-Arlington
8:00 PM Wake Forest at Virginia Tech (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Louisiana-Lafayette at Arkansas-Little Rock
8:00 PM Loyola Marymount at Gonzaga
8:00 PM Hawaii at Louisiana Tech
8:00 PM Victory University at New Orleans
8:00 PM Stephen F. Austin at Texas-San Antonio
8:00 PM North Dakota State at Western Illinois
8:00 PM Dayton at Xavier (CBS College)
8:05 PM Louisiana-Monroe at South Alabama
8:05 PM UMKC at Oral Roberts
8:05 PM UAB at Tulsa
8:05 PM Middle Tennessee at Arkansas State
8:05 PM Wichita State at Drake
8:05 PM Southern Illinois at Northern Iowa (ESPN3)
8:15 PM Campbell at Belmont
8:30 PM Grambling State at Prairie View A&M
8:30 PM Murray State at Tennessee Tech (ESPN3)
8:30 PM North Texas at Troy (ESPN3)
8:35 PM Sacramento State at Northern Arizona
9:00 PM TCU at Colorado State (The Mtn.)
9:00 PM San Jose State at New Mexico State (ESPN3)
9:00 PM San Francisco at San Diego
9:05 PM Portland State at Montana
9:05 PM Rice at UTEP
9:05 PM Idaho State at Weber State
10:00 PM UC Irvine at Cal Poly
10:00 PM Pepperdine at Portland
10:00 PM UC Riverside at UC Santa Barbara
10:00 PM Idaho at Cal State Bakersfield
10:05 PM Cal State Fullerton at Cal State Northridge
10:30 PM Nevada at Boise State (ESPN3)
10:30 PM USC at Oregon State
11:00 PM Utah State at Fresno State
11:00 PM Pacific at Long Beach State
11:00 PM Santa Clara at Saint Mary's

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