Saturday, February 28, 2009

Florida-Tennessee Prediction


Tennessee Volunteers at Florida Gators
Sunday 2PM
TV: CBS

Tennessee and Florida meet Saturday with both teams just one game behind the East Division lead and hoping to bolster their postseason tournament possibilities. Florida is coming off a loss to the regular season champion LSU Tigers while Tennessee bounced back with a win over Mississippi State.

Records:

Tennessee 17-10, 8-5, 4-5 (away), RPI #26
Florida 21-7, 8-5, 15-0 (home), RPI #43

Series:

Tennessee has won 8 of the last 10
Tennessee is 3-2 in their last 5 at Florida

Last Meeting:

With ESPN Gameday on hand, the Vols snapped out of a losing streak with a 79-63 win over Florida. UT shot 49 percent from the floor including 12 for 28 from behind the arc. Scotty Hopson led the Vols with 20 points. The Gators had 18 turnovers, six more than their average.

source: google.com

What Florida Must Do To Win...

1. Shoot the ball well
Gators don't get to the free throw line much and rely heavily on shots from the floor. UF shot just 42 percent in the last loss to UT.

2. Play Better Perimeter Defense
Florida allowed 62 total points from LSU's three guards in the loss on Tuesday. The aforementioned Hopson got 20 from the backcourt for UT last time.

What Tennessee Must Do To Win...

1. Create Turnovers
The Vols created 18 from Florida in the last meeting and forced 17 in this week's win over Miss State.

2. Hit 3's
Vols are a very pedestrian 30 percent on the season but hit 43 percent in the January win.

Prediction

Tennessee has really dominated this series since Bruce Pearl got to Knoxville. The Vols have to have this game if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. The Gators are undefeated at home this year while UT has lost three of their last four SEC road games. I will take Florida in a down to the wire game.

Florida wins by 3-9 points


Season: 19-18 SU through 2/24


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Duke-Virginia Tech Prediction


Duke Blue Devils at Virginia Tech Hokies
Saturday 3 PM
TV: ABC

Duke travels to Virginia Tech on Saturday looking to extend their three game winning streak. The Hokies are fresh off a big road win over Clemson this week, but still need a good win or two to bolster their NCAA Tournament prospects.

Records:

Duke 23-5, 9-4, 5-4 (away), RPI #2
Va Tech 17-10, 7-6, 9-3 (home), RPI #55

Series:

Duke has won 5 of the last 7
Duke has won 2 of the last 3 in Blacksburg

Last Meeting - Duke 69 Va Tech 44 January 04 2009

Duke used a strong second half to pull away from the Hokies in Cameron Indoor. Both teams had trouble hanging onto the ball with 35 combined turnovers. Duke held VT to just 37 percent shooting and just 1 for 9 from three point range. The Blue Devils hit the glass hard grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. VT guard Malcolm Delaney was held to just 12 points while Duke had four players in double figures.


source: google.com

What Duke Must Do To Win...

1. Shoot Well
In Duke's five losses they average 40.6 percent from the floor versus 46 percent in their 23 wins.

2. Get to the Free Throw Line
Another trend for the Dukies is in their five losses they shoot just over 16 free throws whereas their season average is 24 per game. Based on their percentage of makes this account for about 6 points per game less in their losses.

3. Win the Bench Production Battle
Neither team is very team in terms of scorers off the bench, but with freshman Elliot Williams seeing quality minutes, Greg Paulus is the scoring leader of the second unit. Paulus needs to bring some good relief for a team that usually goes at most nine deep.

What Virginia Tech Must Do To Win...

1. Be Efficient on Offense
The Hokies rank 102nd in the nation in points per possession while Duke ranks 17th. Va Tech has to take care of the ball and not allow Duke to get to their average of 17 forced turnovers per game from opponents.

2. Guard The 3 Point Line
Duke is not going to beat you with half court feeds into the post. Seth Greenberg has to reiterate to his team how important guarding the outside shot will be because Duke is not the type of slashing team these Hokies have seen in the past. Plus, if Duke is cold early then they have a tendency to get rattled.

3. Control the Boards
Virginia Tech is a pretty good rebounding team, but they will have to box out against one of the better offensive rebounding teams in Duke. Coach K knows that VT is not likely to get out and run a lot on misses so he will likely have his team crashing the offensive glass.

Prediction

Duke has gotten a big boost as of late from freshman Elliot Williams. If he and Paulus have good games then I see Duke taking this one. Virginia Tech will have to dominate the post with Jeff Allen if they want to pull off the home upset. But I like Duke to win this one because of how well they have played in the last week.

Duke wins by 1-6 points

Season: 19-18 SU through 2/24


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Friday, February 27, 2009

Kentucky-LSU Prediction


LSU Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats
Saturday 4PM
TV: CBS

The West Division Champion LSU Tigers travel to Lexington to face a Kentucky team hungry to bounce back from a bad loss this week to South Carolina. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Wildcats really need this one to improve their NCAA Tournament chances.

Records:

LSU 24-4, 12-1, 5-2 (away), RPI #29
Kentucky 19-9, 8-5, 12-4 (home), RPI #61

Series:

Kentucky has won 8 of the last 10
Kentucky has won the last 11 at Rupp Arena

What Kentucky Must Do To Win...

1. Take Care of the Rock
The Wildcats had 20 turnovers in the loss to South Carolina on Wednesday. UK is averaging 17 turnovers per game on the season but good news for Kentucky fans is that LSU is forcing just under 14 per game.

2. Shoot Better
Kentucky is a pretty good shooting team on average hitting just under 49 percent on the season, but that fell to 34 percent against South Carolina. Contrast that figure against a 60 percent game in a win versus Tennessee last weekend.

3. Punch LSU In the Mouth Early
The Tigers are winners of 12 straight and have not lost in over a month. I think UK needs to deliver an early punch and get the home crowd involved. This will be the toughest road game LSU has had in a while. We are not really sure how LSU will react to being down on the road because they have not been in so long.


source:google.com

What LSU Must Do To Win...

1. Pressure UK Point Guards
We saw on Wednesday what happens when you put pressure on Kentucky ball handlers full court. LSU has the athleticism in the back court to pressure the Wildcats and try to force turnovers.

2. Get Up Early
Kentucky has been like a snow ball at home this year because when they get up they have rarely given up the lead. Only South Carolina came from behind to win and the game was back and forth many times.

3. Get to the Offensive Glass
In addition to turnovers, Kentucky has struggled rebounding the ball this season. LSU averages 14 offensive rebounds per game. UK is giving up 12.5 per game The Wildcats are not a running team so the Tigers should not be afraid of crashing the offensive boards.

Prediction

It was hard to find things wrong with LSU because they haven't lost in so long. But Kentucky is a different team at home this year. The team that shoots the ball better will win this game. I think LSU is the better team, but not at Rupp which has been a house of horrors for the Tigers (11 straight losses). I will take Kentucky in a close game.

Kentucky wins by 2-8 points

Season: 19-18 SU through 2/24


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

North Carolina vs Georgia Tech Prediction


Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at North Carolina Tar Heels
Saturday 12PM
TV: CBS

The top and bottom of the ACC meet on Saturday as Georgia Tech travels to Chapel Hill to face North Carolina in their first meeting of the year. Tech is hoping for just its second ACC win of the season while UNC is looking to keep pace in the race for a number one seed.

Records:

Ga Tech 10-16, 1-12, 2-8(away), RPI #161
UNC 24-3, 10-3, 12-1(home), RPI #2

Series:

UNC has won 6 of the last 10
UNC has won the last 5 in Chapel Hill

google.com

What North Carolina Must Do To Win…

1. Show up to the Dean Dome by 11:59AM
2. Not getting completely wasted the night before
3. Just play a little defense, not a lot, just a little

What Georgia Tech Must Do To Win…

1. Hope UNC's bus breaks down on 15/501
2. Play their best game of the year
3. Not turn the ball over, have Gani Lawal score 35, hit their free throws

Prediction

Georgia Tech has the talent to stay with North Carolina, but cannot execute at nearly the same level as the Tar Heels. I think this one will be tight for a half, but UNC pulls away in the second half.

North Carolina wins by 15-25 points

Season: 19-18 SU through 2/24


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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Duke-Maryland Prediction

Click here for ACC Tournament Semifinal Matchup Preview and Prediction


Duke Blue Devils at Maryland Terrapins
Wednesday 9PM
TV: ESPN

Duke and Maryland renew their rivalry Wednesday with the Terrapins looking for another win to bolster their NCAA Tournament hopes. Maryland is coming off an overtime win against UNC while Duke defeated Wake Forest Sunday scoring a season high 101 points in the victory.

Records:

Duke 22-5, 8-4, 3-4 (away), RPI #3
Maryland 17-9, 6-6, 14-2 (home), RPI #54

Series:

Duke and Maryland have split the last 10 games, 5-5
Duke is 3-2 in the last 5 at Maryland

Last Meeting:

Duke dominated Maryland in Durham winning 85-44. The Blue Devils were up 40-15 at half time with 10 different players scoring in the victory. The Terps shot just 28 percent from the floor and were out rebounded 56 to 38. Maryland turned the ball over 17 times and got only four points from leader Greivis Vasquez. If you looked up domination in the dictionary, a picture of this games is next to it.


SI.com

What Duke Must Do To Win...
The Blue Devils need to do what has gotten them to the top of the ACC over the years: get to the free throw line, hit threes, play aggressive defense. Duke was able to bounce back against Wake Forest on Sunday by accomplishing all of these. The Devils need to devote much of their defensive focus to Vasquez who is the heart and soul of this Maryland team.

What Maryland Must Do To Win...
The Terps have to shoot the ball well. They average just under 42 percent on the season and were awful last time vs Duke. Maryland cannot allow 25 offensive rebounds again like Carolina got on Saturday. Finally, Vasquez needs to atone for his performance at Cameron in January. If he plays close to what he did on Saturday, Maryland has a good chance to pull of this upset.

Prediction

These teams are very different than they were in their meeting a month ago. At that point Duke seemed invincible, but we know now they are beatable. Duke's best conference road wins were against Georgia Tech and FSU when the 'Noles were an inconsistent team. I like Maryland at home to even the season series behind a another big game by Vasquez.

Maryland wins by 1-6 points


Season: 19-16 SU through 2/22

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kentucky-South Carolina Prediction



Kentucky Wildcats at South Carolina Gamecocks
Wednesday 7PM
TV: Raycom

Kentucky, fresh off a blowout of Tennessee, travels to Columbia for a rematch with South Carolina who defeated the Wildcats earlier this season in Lexington. The Gamecocks are tied with UK and Florida at 8-4 in the East Division. The top two teams will receive first round SEC Tournament byes.

Records:

Kentucky 19-8, 8-4, 4-4 (away), RPI #62
South Carolina 19-6, 8-4, 15-1 (home), RPI #43

Series:

Kentucky is 7-3 in the last 10 games
Kentucky is 4-1 in the last 5 games at the Colonial Center

Last Meeting:

South Carolina won their fourth game in a row by defeating Kentucky 78-77. The Gamecocks were lead by their backcourt duo of Zam Frederick and Devan Downey who combined for 47 points. South Carolina won this game by dominating the glass with 18 offensive rebounds allowing them 76 field goal attempts to just 48 for Kentucky. The Wildcats also hurt themselves with 21 turnovers.

What South Carolina Must Do To Win...

I said it last time they played and I will say it again. The Gamecocks have to have big games from Downey and Frederick to win this game. South Carolina needs to do a better job of getting to the free throw line where they had just 15 attempts and made seven last meeting. The interior defense needs to slow Patrick Patterson in the paint. The sophomore had 28 in January and is coming off a very good game Saturday.


google.com

What Kentucky Must Do To Win...

Rebound the ball. The Wildcats were punished on the glass in the loss and that stat has been in a trend in UK losses this season. Kentucky has to play the same kind of defense they did on Saturday where they allowed UT just 32 percent shooting from the field which is even lower than the 38 percent UK's defense is averaging on the season. And finally, if they get production from guys like Darius Miller like they did against the Vols then that just frees up more space for Jodie Meeks and Patterson who had 48 combined against South Carolina last game.

Prediction

The Gamecocks have lost just once at home this season to arch rival Clemson back early in the season. But I think Kentucky is getting on a roll and they did not play very well in the previous meeting, but lost by just one point. I like Kentucky to win this one close and split the season series.

Kentucky wins by 1-5 points

Season: 19-16 SU through 2/22


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Monday, February 23, 2009

ACC Basketball Rankings February 23rd

Click Here for the most recent rankings

As we inch closer to the madness that is the month of March, the ACC picture is becoming a little more clear. I think five teams have clearly separated themselves near the top of the conference with a sixth attempting to jump off the bubble and into the Tournament.


The ACC has 11 teams that can beat any other team on any given night. You think a lead is safe on the road? Ask Roy Williams as the Tar Heels were upset on Saturday by a late charging Maryland team. Duke bounced back this week with a big win over Wake Forest Sunday. Florida State just continues to win and is now being talked about as a Tournament sleeper team. Boston College and Virginia Tech still have a shot at the Tournament and maybe even Miami if they can finish strong.

1. North Carolina
The loss to Maryland hurts UNC's chances as the top overall seed but they are still tops in the ACC.

2. Clemson
The Tigers get two solid wins this week after a few hiccups the week before.

3. Duke
Coach K reached into his belly for that performance on Sunday, but it was exactly what Duke needed right now.

4. Florida State
They just keep winning and people are starting to take notice. Your truly included.

5. Wake Forest
Still a really good season thus far, but the Deacs need some wins to stay out of a Thursday conference tourney game.

6. Maryland
Peaking at just the right time are the Terps. They go as Vasquez goes and I know he is looking forward to Wednesday vs Duke.


google.com

7. Boston College

8. Virginia Tech

9. Miami
You would have an argument here to put NC State ahead of Miami, but I give the edge to the Hurricanes for now. They were very close to beating North Carolina and Duke recently and beat a good Boston College team handily on Saturday.

10. NC State

11. Virginia

12. Georgia Tech
Sadly, this team really hasn't been blown out in that many games, but Herm Edwards or Ga Tech fans don't care about that.

Top Games This Week:
Duke at Maryland Wed
Va Tech at Clemson Wed
Clemson at FSU Sat

Season: 19-16 SU through 2/22


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SEC Basketball Rankings February 23rd

Click Here for the most recent rankings

As the weeks until Selection Sunday become fewer and fewer, the SEC is making a stronger case for getting more than the four teams many pundits are currently saying they will into the Tournament.


LSU could finish the SEC conference season 13-3 or even 14-2! The next three after are all good teams and haven't done a whole to separate themselves from each other but I give the nod to South Carolina this week. Stay tuned.


1. LSU
The Tigers have won 8 in a row. Two huge games this week though will shape their NCAA seed a lot.

2. South Carolina
I wavered a little bit on putting the Gamecocks here because of their close wins of late, but they have won them all which is more than most teams can say.

3. Kentucky
UK looked dominant against Tennessee on Saturday. If they stay healthy and get that kind of team production (i.e. outside of Meeks and Patterson) watch out in the NCAA Tournament.

4. Florida
The Gators season comes down to the next four games and they are all winnable or all losable.

5. Mississippi State

6. Ole Miss
Andy Kennedy has done a fine job this year even with all the injuries, altercations with cabbies, and lack of sex
.

google.com

7. Auburn
Don't look now, but Auburn is 6-6 in the SEC and you never know in the conference tournament.

8. Tennessee
This team needs a serious run to make the NCAA Tournament now even with that tough schedule in their favor.

9. Vanderbilt

10. Alabama

11. Arkansas

12. Georgia
Still can't believe they beat Florida.

Top Games This Week:
Florida at LSU Tue
Kentucky at South Carolina Wed
LSU at Kentucky Sat

Season: 19-16 SU through 2/22


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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jim Calhoun Owns Reporter

This is a great video of UConn coach Jim Calhoun mouthing off to a political reporter over the coach's salary and a potential budget deficit facing the state of Connecticut. How did this guy even get into the press conference? Who is checking credentials at these things?


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Duke vs Wake Forest Prediction


Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Duke Blue Devils
Sunday 7PM
TV: Fox Sports Network

Wake Forest takes on Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium with the ACC standings and NCAA Tournament seeding at stake. The Deacons won the first game of the season on a last second layup in Winston Salem. Duke has lost four of their last seven including the defeat to Wake. But the Deacs have not been much better just 3-3 in their last six games.

Records:

Wake Forest 20-4, 7-4, 5-3 (away), RPI #16
Duke 21-5, 7-4, 14-1 (home), RPI #5

Series:

Duke has won 6 of the last 10
Duke has won the last 5 at home

Players to Watch:

Wake Forest
Jeff Teague 20ppg, James Johnson 13.8ppg, Al-Farouq Aminu 13.2ppg

Duke
Kyle Singler 16.3ppg, Gerald Henderson 15.6ppg, Jon Scheyer 13.3ppg

google.com

What Duke Must Do To Win...
The Blue Devils have to shoot the ball better than they did in the first meeting where they hit just 33 percent of their shots and were just 4 for 22 from behind the arc. Duke has to get more production from their bench too. Greg Paulus accounted for five of the seven Duke bench points in the two point loss to the Deacs. Duke's defense has slipped lately as well allowing their last three opponents to shoot over 50 percent from the floor. Wake Forest hits 49.5 percent on the season

What Wake Forest Must Do To Win...
The Deacons defense has to clamp down on Duke from driving the ball to the basket. Wake did a good job of this only allowing the Blue Devils eight assists in the first game while forcing 15 turnovers. Duke is known for getting to the free throw line but Wake actually shot more free throws than Duke in the last game between the two. Wake allowed NC State to shoot 31 from the line in their last loss with the Deacs shooting just 16.

Prediction

I think Wake is the more talented team, but Duke is really tough to beat at home. They have not played their best ball as of late, but I think they are due for a bounce back in this game. Coach K gets the Dukies to toughen up their defense and keep Wake frustrated all game.

Duke wins by 3-8 points

Season: 17-14 SU through 2/20

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North Carolina vs Maryland Prediction


North Carolina Tar Heels at Maryland Terrapins
Saturday 3PM
TV: ABC

The third ranked Tar Heels of North Carolina travel to College Park to face the opportunistic Maryland Terrapins. Earlier this season, UNC scored 108 points in a 17 point win over the Terps in Chapel Hill. North Carolina has won 10 in a row after starting the ACC season 0-2.

Records:

North Carolina 24-2, 10-2, 7-1 (away), RPI #3
Maryland 16-9, 5-6, 13-2 (home), RPI #61

Series:

UNC has won 7 of the last 10
Maryland has won 3 of the last 5 at home

Players to Watch

UNC
Tyler Hansbrough 21.4ppg, Ty Lawson 15.9ppg, Wayne Ellington 15.1ppg

Maryland
Greivis Vasquez 16ppg, Landon Milbourne 13ppg, Adrian Bowie 9.8ppg

google.com

What UNC Must Do To Win...
Play some semblance of defense. Even though the Heels scored 108 against Maryland they also gave up 91. If they give up that many points again I think they will lose this game. Roy Williams style of offense makes it hard some times to play 40 minutes of good defense, but UNC will at least have to play 20 minutes of it to win this game. UNC hit 16 threes in just 25 attempts in the previous win this season. It would be nice to shoot that well again.

What Maryland Must Do To Win...
Slow the tempo down. The Terps have to try their best to make this a half court game and be efficient on offense. The execution of the offense will fall on the lap of the outspoken Vasquez who is the heart and soul of this Maryland team. The Terps have to get back fast on defense and prevent any easy buckets or open shots for the Tar Heels. Easier said than done though. It would be nice to get Hansbrough in foul trouble too.

Prediction
If UNC plays defense well in this game then Maryland doesn't have a shot, but the Tar Heels haven't done that for 40 minutes all year. I think Maryland keeps this one close until North Carolina overcomes them late with anoffensive barrage that includes five starters averaging in double figures.

North Carolina wins by 7-15 points


Season: 17-14 SU through 2/20

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Florida vs Vanderbilt Prediction


Vanderbilt Commodores at Florida Gators
Saturday 3PM
TV: Raycom

Vanderbilt travels to Gainesville for a Saturday afternoon show down with Florida trying to improve their postseason tournament positioning. Florida won the first match up of the season in Nashville blowing out the Commodores 94-69 and is still fighting for the East Division crown.

Records:

Florida 20-6, 7-4, 14-0 (home), RPI #45
Vanderbilt 16-9, 5-6, 2-5 (away), RPI #91

Series:

Florida has won 8 of the last 10
Florida has won the last 5 at home

Players to Watch:

Florida
Nick Calathes 18.8ppg, Alex Tyus 12.5ppg, Chandler Parsons 10ppg

Vanderbilt
AJ Ogilvy 14.7ppg, Jeffery Taylor 12.4ppg, Jermaine Beal 12.4ppg


What Florida must do to win...
The Gators have to play good defense. In three of their four SEC losses, their opponent has shot better than 47 percent. In the blowout win over Vandy in January, the Dores leading scorer Ogilvy had just 4 points. If UF can hold the Australian center down like that again they will win easily. We know Calathes will get his points, but who will be the other Gator to step up and take on the scoring load? Last time versus Vandy it was Parsons who had 27 points.

What Vanderbilt must do to win...
Vandy has to get hot from outside. In the first meeting of the year, the Dores were just 6 for 22 on three pointers. In the Gators upset loss to Georgia, the Bulldogs shot 14 for 26 from outside and were shooting 57 percent from the floor. Ogilvy has to have a big game and dominate the paint against the undersized Gator front line. Vandy has four legitimate scorers who average double figures in points per game. Coach Kevin Stallings needs those four to win their individual match ups and make the Gators double team.

Prediction

The Gators are undefeated at the O'Connell Center this season and I don't see that coming to an end against an inferior Vanderbilt team. Florida should take this one relatively easily.

Florida wins by 8-15 points


Season: 17-14 SU through 2/20

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