Friday, January 22, 2010

Saturday Basketball Preview

There are 142 Division I games on tap tomorrow. Some are more important than others. Here's a brief glimpse at some of those games.

VCU (13-4, 5-3 CAA) vs Northeastern (12-7, 7-1 CAA) - This is the rematch from earlier this month won by Northeastern at the Siegel Center 62-57. Two years in a row the Huskies have won on VCU's home court. VCU now looks to return the favor in Matthews Arena. The focus might be on the frontcourt matchup of the Rams' Larry Sanders and Jamie Skeen vs the Huskies' Manny Adako and Nkem Ojougboh.

However a more important matchup will be VCU's Joey Rodriguez vs Northeastern's Chaisson Allen, two of the hottest players in the CAA right now. Rodriguez has been terrific in his last three games shooting 19 of 35 from the field while dishing out 23 assists to only 5 turnovers. Rodriguez leads the CAA in assists with 5.8 assists per game and in assist to turnover ratio with 2.5 assists to 1 turnover. Allen is third in the CAA in three point FG percentage at 44.6 percent. In his last seven games, all Noreaster wins, Allen is shooting 57 percent from the field (37 of 65) including 55 percent from beyond the arc (22 of 40). That's torrid shooting.

ODU (15-5, 7-1 CAA) vs. William and Mary (14-4, 6-2 CAA) - The CAA preseason favorite Monarchs look to keep their share of first place in conference vs the surprise darlings of the Colonial, the Tribe. ODU is looking for its seventh straight win, while William and Mary looks to bounce back after a beatdown at the hands of VCU.

It's a contrast in styles as the second highest scoring team in the CAA, the Mary, tries to score on the Monarchs, the CAA's toughest defense. ODU is first in scoring defense, first in field goal percentage defense and second in three point field goal percentage defense. The key to this game might be how William and Mary, ninth in the CAA in rebounding margin tries to cope with the best rebounding team in the CAA in ODU.

By the way, guess who are the four top teams in the CAA in assists to turnover ratio? William and Mary, ODU, VCU and Northeastern. No surprise that these are four of the top teams in the CAA. And once again, further proof that the best conference teams are the teams that are at the top of the assist to turnover ratio category.

BYU (19-1,4-0 MWC) vs. San Diego State (14-5, 3-2 MWC). If San Diego State wants to become part of the Mountain West NCAA Tournament discussion, the Aztecs absolutely need to hold serve tomorrow and defeat the Cougars. But it won't be easy as BYU is first in the MWC in scoring offense (79 points per game) and scoring defense (58 points per game). The Cougars' defense will get a test as the Aztecs lead the Mountain West in FG percentage at 47.6 percent per game (BYU is second at 46.6 percent).

The game should be a close one as both teams are close in a lot of MWC categories such as rebounding margin. For San Diego State to beat BYU, the Aztecs must defend the three against the best three point shooting team in the Mountain West (and the Aztecs are next to last in the MWC in three point FG percentage defense). And the Aztecs, one of the worst teams in conference in turnover margin, must keep their turnovers to a mininum against the Cougars, who are the best team in the Mountain West in turnover margin.

The Mountain West has never had four teams in the NCAA tourament. The most they have had is three teams on three occasions. UNLV and New Mexico are the other two Mountain West teams that are considered possibilities to make the NCAA tournament.

Rhode Island (15-2, 3-1 A10) vs Xavier (12-6, 4-1 A10). Another conference that could be looking at potentially four bids, the Atlantic 10's feature Saturday matchup is the Rams and the Musketeers. It's been a tough eight days for the Musketeers. Last Saturday, Xavier had to rally late to defeat Dayton at home. Then on Wednesday, the Musketeers lost a tough game at Temple. Now its Rhode Island.

The game promises to be very high scoring as the Rams average 79.6 points per game while Xavier averages 78.3 points per game. Rhode Island has been terrific on the road, winning six of their seven road games (only loss a two point loss at VCU). Xavier has been perfect at home with a 9-0 record. This is one of those something has to give games. The winner will be guaranteed at least a second place tie in the A10 when the day is done.

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