College Hoops Wednesday: Your Commentary

January 12th, 2011
Another day, another matchup between ranked teams in the Big East as #17 Louisville (13-2, 2-0) heads northeast to take on #7 Villanova (14-1, 3-0). The question some have in regards to Rick Pitino's team is who have they beaten of consequence on the road, and with a 2-0 mark in such games a win in Philadelphia would go a long way in cementing them as a factor in the Big East race. The Cardinals want to play fast and they want to force you to play with discomfort, which more often than not results in turnovers and transition scoring opportunities for Louisville. That makes the job of guards Corey Fisher (15.1 ppg, 4.8 apg) and Maalik Wayns (13.1 ppg, 5.6 apg) that much more important on Wednesday night. While both aren't shooting at as high a percentage (Fisher: 39.0% FG, Wayns: 38.6% FG) as hoped this season it will be just as vital that they value the basketball in order for the Wildcats to remain undefeated in conference play (keep in mind that both played well in the win over Cincinnati).

Defensively the Cardinals limit opponents to 38% shooting and an offensive efficiency of just 88.6, and forcing teams to turn the ball over on more than 25% of their possessions isn't too shabby either. Guards Preston Knowles (14.9 ppg, 1.9 spg) and Peyton Siva (11.1 ppg, 2.1 spg) do a good job of getting after opposing guards and while Knowles is the better perimeter shooter both can make you pay offensively as well. Mike Marra (9.1 ppg) and Kyle Kuric (7.3 ppg, 41.2% 3PT) will get the majority of the ink in terms of shooting from beyond the arc (Kuric has been far more consistent), but keep tabs on Manhattan transfer Chris Smith coming off the bench. Smith averages more than nine points per game in just 21 minutes of action while shooting over 50% from both the field (56%) and from three (52%). The majority of the talent on both teams (Villanova also has Corey Stokes and Dominic Cheek to rely on for scoring) is on the perimeter, meaning that the interior players could ultimately make the difference.

Leading rebounder Rakeem Buckles has been out with a broken hand, meaning that Gorgui Dieng, Terrence Jennings and Stephan Van Treese all need to step up if Louisville is to hold their own against the better rebounding teams in the Big East. Villanova isn't blessed with a lot of size themselves but in Antonio Pena and Mouphtaou Yarou they've got two players averaging more than seven rebounds per game. Villanova's been the better team on the boards with a margin of plus-7.5 while the Cards have a margin of just plus-3.3 rebounds per game. Louisville's style of play tends to lead to more three point attempts, which in turn means more rebounding opportunities going by the percentages. Look for the team that controls the glass to end up with the victory in Philly.

In other games Georgetown hosts Pittsburgh in what could be a "last stand" type of contest in regards to the Hoyas' (1-3 in Big East play) conference title hopes. Simply put they need PG Chris Wright to play as well as he's capable of playing and their frontcourt will also need to bring it against the deeper Panthers. Michigan gets another opportunity at knocking off a Top 5 team as bitter rival Ohio State visits Ann Arbor, and top-ranked Duke hits the road to take on Florida State. The Seminoles historically put forth some of their best performances on when Duke shows up and Leonard Hamilton will have to hope that the case, especially on the offensive end. And out west two of the expected contenders in the Mountain West meet on Montezuma Mesa as undefeated San Diego State hosts UNLV. Given the quality of players such as Tre'Von Willis (UNLV) and Kawhi Leonard (SDSU) littering the rosters (just to name two players; both teams are blessed with quality performers all over the floor) you'd be advised to stay up late for this battle.

Top 25
9:00 PM (1) Duke at Florida State (ESPN)
6:30 PM (2) Ohio State at Michigan (BTN)
9:00 PM (3) Kansas at Iowa State (ESPN2)
7:00 PM (4) Syracuse at St. John's (ESPNU)
7:00 PM (5) Pittsburgh at (19) Georgetown (ESPN)
10:00 PM UNLV at (6) San Diego State (CBS College)
7:00 PM (17) Louisville at (7) Villanova (ESPN2)
7:00 PM Nebraska at (12) Missouri (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Oklahoma State at (13) Texas A&M (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Colorado at (20) Kansas State
7:30 PM St. Bonaventure at (23) Temple

NCAA Division I Games
4:00 PM Coppin State at South Carolina State
5:00 PM Texas-Pan American at NJIT
7:00 PM Maine at Albany
7:00 PM Fordham at George Washington
7:00 PM George Mason at Northeastern
7:00 PM Hofstra at Towson
7:00 PM UAB at East Carolina
7:00 PM Georgia Tech at Clemson
7:00 PM Georgia State at James Madison
7:00 PM Wofford at Georgia Southern
7:00 PM Colgate at Lafayette
7:00 PM Holy Cross at Army
7:00 PM Delaware at UNC Wilmington
7:00 PM Ohio at Akron
7:00 PM UMBC at Binghamton
7:00 PM Toledo at Central Michigan
7:00 PM South Florida at Cincinnati (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Furman at Davidson
7:00 PM Saint Joseph's at Dayton
7:00 PM Saint Louis at Duquesne
7:00 PM Pennsylvania at La Salle
7:00 PM Navy at Lehigh
7:00 PM VCU at William & Mary
7:00 PM Massachusetts at Xavier
7:30 PM Bucknell at American University
7:30 PM Western Michigan at Ball State
7:30 PM Wyoming at TCU
8:00 PM Arkansas at LSU (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Maryland at Wake Forest (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Georgia at Vanderbilt (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Southern Miss at Rice
8:00 PM Texas-San Antonio at Texas A&M-CC
8:00 PM Nicholls State at Northwestern State
8:00 PM Texas-Arlington at Sam Houston State
8:00 PM Memphis at Southern Methodist
8:00 PM Central Arkansas at Stephen F. Austin
8:00 PM UTEP at Tulane
8:05 PM Indiana State at Bradley
8:05 PM Wichita State at Creighton
8:05 PM Drake at Evansville
8:05 PM Northern Iowa at Illinois State
8:05 PM Southern Illinois at Missouri State
8:30 PM Tulsa at Arizona State
8:30 PM Northwestern at Iowa
8:35 PM McNeese State at Lamar
9:00 PM Seton Hall at DePaul (ESPN3)
9:00 PM South Carolina at Alabama (ESPN3)
10:00 PM Colorado State at New Mexico (The Mtn.)
11:00 PM Nevada at Idaho (ESPN2)
11:00 PM UC Davis at Long Beach State (ESPNU)

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