Saturday, February 2, 2008

Groundhog day: The big games in the SEC

What are the really big games in the SEC this weekend? Let's see:

  • Mississippi State hosting #7 Tennessee
    This game is significant for both teams. Tennessee has won two in a row after dropping one on the road at Kentucky, and the serious roll that MSU has been on through the SEC schedule was derailed slightly at Arkansas earlier this week. MSU needs a win against a ranked foe to propel them into the top 25. Conversely, A second loss in four games would hurt the Volunteer's quest for a 1 or two seed in the NCAA's.

    Tennessee will try to get the pace into the 72+ possession range, and if this happens, MSU is in trouble. MSU also tends to turn the ball over a lot. MSU can win by keeping the tempo down -- Tennessee is not a good half-court team, and MSU is 5th in the nation in defensive points/possession.

    My Pick: Tennessee wins a squeaker, 79-75

    Blog Commentary:

  • #20 Florida at Arkansas

    The Gators are on a three-game roll, and last week ran a feckless Vanderbilt team out of the O-Dome. As a consequence, they jumped up to #20 in the polls, but trust me when I say that these Gators are not the 20th best team in the nation just yet, especially as unproven as they are with an RPI of 43 and a #150 strength of schedule (compare to the Razorbacks #41 and #61). This is a matchup between two very even teams with different strengths and weaknesses.

    Arkansas must handle the Florida pick and roll, and nobody is more capable than former UF assistant, John Pelphrey. Keeping the ball out of Nick Calthes' hands is critical to Arkansas' success, because Calathes has proven that he can kill teams all by himself if you let him touch the ball where he wants to. Arkansas has the edge in athleticism, but they must avoid falling into the wide-open running game that Pelphrey enjoys. Florida is simply better at it, and their biggest weakness is their half-court defense. If Arkansas can force Florida into the half court, the Razorbacks' athleticism will assert itself.

    My pick: Arkansas takes down the Gators in a close game, 75-73.

    Blog commentary:

  • Gators: GatorPilot, Orange and Blue Hue:

    O&B Hue’s Keys to Victory:

    • - Get a true inside out attack going with Speights.
    • - Play Billyball. Wear them out so we can win the game in the final 5:00.
    • - Use the press.
    • - Make the extra pass and keep searching for the open look.
    • - Get points in transition.
    • - Make the shots.
  • Razorbacks: HogBlogger:

    So what’s my winning formula for these guys?

    • Play very intense defense…including using a strong press often. I think the use of the Wooden-era, UCLA-type ‘token’ press has been the root of many of the lazy habits shown by this team.
    • Pass the ball on offense — don’t dribble it unless for a specific purpose. Quick ball movement is the key that will allow these guys to play better on offense.
    • Emphasize a controlled fast break with secondary options — no long passes.
    • Use ball rotation and pick and roll to get the ball into the paint.
    • Ride Sonny Weems early and often. Post him up…get him the ball in scoring positions…put this team on his back.
    • Play inside-out with Weems and Beverley.
    • Make the post players kick the ball out to the shooters (this means you Charles Thomas — quit getting your shot blocked).