College Hoops Wednesday: Your Commentary

February 16th, 2011
At the most the winner of tonight's game between Wisconsin (19-5, 9-3) and Purdue (20-5, 9-3) becomes the team with the best chance to catch Ohio State at the top of the Big Ten standings. But at the very least a win puts the victor in a good position to earn the two-seed in next month's Big Ten Tournament, a nice reward given the fact that the quarterfinal opponent will have played on the opening Thursday. Wisconsin looks to cap a season sweep of the series, and an important aspect of tonight's game will be their ability to put Saturday's win over Ohio State in the past and move forward. That shouldn't be an issue as Bo Ryan's got an experienced team led by point guard Jordan Taylor and forward Jon Leuer, two of the best players in the conference.

Taylor's been outstanding for the Badgers this season, most recently scoring 27 points and handing out seven assists in the win over the Buckeyes. And while the junior made just four of thirteen shots in the first game against Purdue he made his presence known in all aspects of the game with seven rebounds and five assists in a 66-59 Wisconsin victory. Is it Lewis Jackson or E'Twaun Moore that gets the call defensively for Purdue? Regardless of who it is the Boilermakers will have their hands full with Taylor, who according to Ken Pomeroy's player rankings is the best offensive player in the Big Ten with regards to offensive rating and the margin between he and Ohio State's Jared Sullinger isn't all that close.

The inside matchup between Leuer and JaJuan Johnson is the one that will likely draw the most eyes from an NBA potential standpoint, and it will go a long way in determining the outcome as well. Leuer went for 24 and 13 rebounds in the first meeting, and while Johnson scored 23 himself he grabbed just four rebounds on the night. Johnson averages 7.7 rebounds per game and if Wisconsin can once again keep him off the glass they'll enjoy a decided advantage in that area (32-25 edge in Madison). Purdue isn't as deep up front, meaning that their wings will need to crash the boards to deal with the likes of Mike Bruesewitz and Keaton Nankivil. Both teams are around a plus-five in rebounding margin but the Badgers enjoy a better "distribution" among their key players.

E'Twaun Moore finished the first contest with 15 points and three assists but he also turned the ball over four times in an uncharacteristic performance for him. when considering the turnovers. Since that loss he's scored 45 points in the last two games and averages 17.8 per game. Keep an eye on the rebounding and Purdue's turnovers (13 in the first meeting to just seven for Wisconsin) tonight, as the two areas will likely combine to determine the winner.

There's also an important matchup in the Big East as Connecticut hosts Georgetown. The Hoyas have won eight straight games and are one of the hottest teams in the nation much less the Big East. Austin Freeman tweaked an ankle in the win over Marquette but returned to make some key plays late, and fellow guards Jason Clark and Chris Wright combine to give opponents a consistent headache. But just like the Huskies, who for the most part know what Kemba Walker will bring to the table, Georgetown needs the complimentary pieces to continue progressing towards March. Jamal Coombs-McDaniel scored a career-high 25 for UConn on Sunday night, and with a quick turnaround coming up (at Louisville on Friday) he and Jeremy Lamb are two of the players Jim Calhoun needs to step up tonight.

New Mexico has a chance to further help their cause for an at-large bid with a win at San Diego State, and frankly Steve Alford's team needs the win to add bulk to a meager resume. Georgia is in better shape but a win over Vanderbilt certainly wouldn't hurt in a wide-open race for the SEC East's second first round bye in the conference tournament, and Cincinnati needs to do two things tonight at home. One would be to beat Louisville, but they likely won't be able to do that if Yancy Gates wakes up and decides to play basketball as if he cares. The NCAA Tournament prospects for Mick Cronin's team likely rest on the mercurial junior's shoulders, for better or for worse.

Top 25
9:00 PM Oklahoma State at (2) Texas (ESPN2)
7:00 PM South Florida at (4) Pittsburgh (ESPN3)
7:00 PM (5) Duke at Virginia (ESPN2)
10:30 PM New Mexico at (6) San Diego State (The Mtn.)
7:00 PM (9) Georgetown at (12) Connecticut (ESPN3)
6:30 PM (10) Wisconsin at (11) Purdue (BTN)
7:00 PM (16) Louisville at Cincinnati (ESPN)
8:00 PM Iowa State at (17) Texas A&M (ESPN3)
7:00 PM (18) Vanderbilt at Georgia (ESPNU)
11:00 PM (23) Saint Mary's at San Diego (ESPN2)
9:00 PM Montana-Western at (24) Utah State

NCAA Division I Games
7:00 PM Binghamton at Hartford
7:00 PM Navy at Holy Cross
7:00 PM Duquesne at Massachusetts
7:00 PM Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure
7:00 PM Kent State at Miami (OH)
7:00 PM UAB at Memphis (CBS College)
7:00 PM Rice at Marshall
7:00 PM Canisius at Niagara
7:00 PM Bucknell at Lafayette
7:00 PM American University at Army
7:00 PM Eastern Michigan at Central Michigan (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Georgia Southern at Davidson
7:00 PM Youngstown State at Detroit
7:00 PM Morehead State at Eastern Kentucky
7:00 PM Colgate at Lehigh
7:00 PM Southern Virginia at Longwood
7:00 PM Rider at Loyola (MD)
7:00 PM Iona at Manhattan
7:00 PM St. Peter's at Siena
7:00 PM Xavier at Saint Joseph's
7:00 PM South Carolina at Tennessee (ESPN3)
7:00 PM Cleveland State at Wright State
7:30 PM Chattanooga at Georgia Tech
7:30 PM Vermont at Maine
7:30 PM Marist at Fairfield
7:30 PM Dayton at Charlotte
8:00 PM Florida A&M at Arkansas
8:00 PM Loyola (IL) at Illinois-Chicago (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Auburn at Mississippi (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Louisiana Tech at North Dakota
8:00 PM Southern Methodist at Houston
8:00 PM Stephen F. Austin at Texas-Arlington
8:00 PM Valparaiso at Milwaukee
8:00 PM Wofford at Samford
8:00 PM Lamar at Southeastern Louisiana
8:00 PM Murray State at Southeast Missouri State
8:00 PM UTEP at Southern Miss
8:00 PM Colorado State at TCU (The Mtn.)
8:00 PM McNeese State at Texas-San Antonio
8:00 PM UCF at Tulane
8:05 PM Indiana State at Southern Illinois
8:05 PM Illinois State at Creighton (ESPN3)
8:05 PM East Carolina at Tulsa
8:30 PM Michigan at Illinois (BTN)
8:35 PM Eastern Washington at Northern Arizona
9:00 PM Nebraska at Oklahoma (ESPNU)
9:00 PM Wyoming at Utah (CBS College)
9:05 PM Idaho State at Montana
9:05 PM Portland State at Weber State
10:00 PM Cal State Northridge at Cal Poly
10:00 PM UC Irvine at Pacific
10:00 PM Fresno State at Cal State Bakersfield
10:05 PM UC Riverside at Long Beach State
10:05 PM Cal State Fullerton at UC Santa Barbara
11:00 PM Pepperdine at Loyola Marymount (ESPNU)