College Hoops Wednesday: Your Commentary

February 23rd, 2011
Despite some solid opportunities still left on their schedule the Baylor Bears (17-9, 6-6) need to rattle off some wins in a hurry thanks to an overall resume that lacks bulk in addition to some eye-opening losses. The most recent result was a 78-69 loss at home to Texas Tech, which doesn't qualify as a statement that Scott Drew's team wants to make at this point in the season. Tonight brings about the challenge of solving the Missouri (21-6, 7-5) press, and the way in which the Bears have protected the ball at times this contest has the potential to get out of hand if they aren't careful. As a team Baylor averages 15.9 turnovers per game (23.7 turnover percentage), and with the Tigers forcing 18 per contest how costly miscues are will depend upon the number of overall possessions and how many points the Tigers can score off of them.

The most important players for Baylor: point guard A.J. Walton, who averages 5.0 assists and 3.6 turnovers per game, and shooting guard LaceDarius Dunn. Dunn's their leading scorer with an average of 20.8 points per game but he'll also be called upon to handle the basketball, and when you average more turnovers (3.5) than assists (2.3) per game that can be a problem against a team like Missouri. If aggressive and smart with the basketball there will be opportunities for Baylor to get some points in odd-man situations, but that's a question that hasn't always provided the needed answer this season.

Missouri's guards can pressure opponents on both ends of the floor. Marcus Denmon (16.6 ppg, 51% FG), Michael Dixon Jr. (10.4, 3.8 apg) and Kim English (10.5, 3.4 rpg) are just three of the players Mike Anderson looks to each game with Pressey brothers Matt and Phil also being a part of the rotation. Laurence Bowers and Ricardo Ratliffe are the major contributors in the frontcourt, and they're going to have their hands full with the Baylor front line. Perry Jones III is the player who's enticed NBA scouts the most, but there's also Quincy Acy and Anthony Jones to contend with. Baylor has a rebounding margin of plus-5.9 on the season while Missouri has struggled on the boards especially against teams who have the size to make them pay (Kansas and Texas immediately come to mind).

If Baylor can play this game closer to their average number of possessions per game (67.3) than Missouri's (74.1) they'll have a chance to make an impact on the boards. A large disparity in rebounds would go a ways in terms of negating the possible advantage Missouri may gain in the turnover category, and with both teams counting on the three at least as much as they do the two for points there should be plenty of chances on both ends for offensive boards. Baylor's RPI (79) and strength of schedule (71) numbers (courtesy mean that they need to go on a run heading into the Big 12 Tournament. Does it start in Columbia? It may have to at this point.

In other action tonight Temple visits Duke with both teams in the position of improving their potential NCAA Tournament seed while also taking on an opponent that will prepare them for March. Juan Fernandez played his best game in nearly a month in the win over Richmond, and maybe it's the beginning of his resurgence. Nolan Smith's a candidate for National Player of the Year honors and he'll have another chance to make a statement against a respected opponent. Cincinnati visits Georgetown with an opportunity to pick up a needed road victory for a resume that lacks one, Wisconsin visits Michigan and Colorado State could make a serious statement with a win at BYU.

Top 25
7:00 PM (24) Temple at (1) Duke (ESPN2)
8:00 PM Colorado State at (7) Brigham Young (The Mtn.)
8:30 PM (8) Purdue at Indiana (BTN)
7:00 PM (9) Notre Dame at Providence (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Cincinnati at (11) Georgetown (ESPN3)
6:30 PM (12) Wisconsin at Michigan (BTN)
7:30 PM Oklahoma at (17) Texas A&M (ESPN3)
9:00 PM (19) North Carolina at North Carolina State (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Baylor at (21) Missouri (ESPN2)
8:00 PM (22) Kentucky at Arkansas (ESPN3)
7:00 PM DePaul at (25) St. John's (ESPN3)

NCAA Division I Games
7:00 PM Stony Brook at Hartford
7:00 PM Charlotte at George Washington
7:00 PM Towson at Delaware
7:00 PM Virginia at Georgia Tech (ESPNU)
7:00 PM Miami (FL) at Boston College
7:00 PM Saint Joseph's at Massachusetts
7:00 PM UTEP at East Carolina
7:00 PM Fordham at St. Bonaventure
7:00 PM Wofford at Chattanooga
7:00 PM Tulsa at Marshall (CBS College)
7:00 PM Army at Lafayette
7:00 PM Hofstra at UNC Wilmington
7:00 PM UMBC at Albany
7:00 PM Miami (OH) at Akron
7:00 PM Eastern Michigan at Ball State
7:00 PM Lehigh at Bucknell
7:00 PM Holy Cross at Colgate
7:00 PM Virginia Commonwealth at Drexel
7:00 PM Rhode Island at Duquesne
7:00 PM Delaware State at Morgan State
7:00 PM Toledo at Western Michigan
7:00 PM Georgia State at William & Mary
7:30 PM Navy at American
7:30 PM Bowling Green at Ohio
7:30 PM Colorado at Texas Tech (ESPN3)
8:00 PM McNeese State at Texas-Arlington
8:00 PM Southeastern Louisiana at Texas State
8:00 PM Auburn at Alabama (ESPN3)
8:00 PM Nicholls State at Central Arkansas
8:00 PM Central Michigan at Northern Illinois
8:00 PM Northwestern State at Sam Houston State
8:00 PM Rice at Southern Methodist
8:00 PM Lamar at Stephen F. Austin
8:00 PM Texas A&M-CC at Texas-San Antonio
8:05 PM Missouri State at Southern Illinois
8:05 PM Evansville at Drake
8:05 PM Creighton at Wichita State
9:00 PM Florida State at Maryland (ESPN3)
9:00 PM Kansas State at Nebraska (ESPNU)
9:00 PM UNLV at New Mexico (CBS College)
9:00 PM LSU at Mississippi State (ESPN3)
10:00 PM Air Force at Wyoming (The Mtn.)
11:00 PM New Mexico State at San Jose State (ESPN2)