Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Lay-up Lines

The big game of the night comes from Freedom Hall where the Louisville Cardinals (17-3, 8-0) will host the UConn Huskies (20-1, 9-1). These may be the two hottest teams in the country right now, as UConn rolls in on a nine game winning streak while Louisville has won 11 in a row. *AND REMEMBER TO CHECK IN TONIGHT AT 7PM FOR THE BIAH LIVE-BLOG OF THE GAME TONIGHT*

These are two very similar teams. They are big and athletic across their front lines, while also playing with a rotation of tough, scrappy guards in the back court. The key for UConn in this game is going to be the play of Stanley Robinson, especially on the defensive end. He is more than likely going to be matched up with Terrence Williams, who is playing as well as anyone in the country over the past three weeks. The major reason that Louisville has been so good of late is that Earl Clark and T-Will have been able to provide the Cards with a playmaker, getting the ball to the paint and finding shooters.

If I'm Jim Calhoun, I tell my guards to stick to the shooters on the perimeter (Jerry Smith, Edgar Sosa, etc). Hasheem Thabeet may be the most intimidating presence at the rim in the country, and as well as Williams, Clark, and to an extent Edgar Sosa have been getting to the basket, I'd take my chances with them trying to finish over the big fella.

Another guy that has been great for Louisville of late is freshman Terrence Jennings. Jennings is a beast on the block, and may eventually be better than Samardo Samuels because of his athleticism and length (which is saying a lot, because Samuels is a helluva player). Jennings was the difference maker down the stretch in Louisville's win over ND because he shut down Luke Harangody.

For UConn, the key is going to be the guard play. Louisville's go-to defense is a 2-2-1 press (UConn runs the same thing, but the 'Villa is much more aggressive in it) back into a 2-3 zone, which I would expect them to run against the poor-shooting Huskies. The key for UConn is not to get into a three-point shooting contest, because their perimeter shooters are nothing to write home about. Guys like AJ Price, Jerome Dyson, and Kemba Walker need to be penetrators, attacking the gaps of the 2-3, drawing defenders, and finding the big guys (Thabeet, Jeff Adrien, Gavin Edwards). They are also going to need Jeff Adrien to be active at the high post. He has been much better of late at being aggressive when he catches the ball at the foul line, either hitting a 15-foot jumper (which has become an excellent weapon for him), going to the rim, or playing some high-low with Thabeet.

Like I said, these are two very similar and very talented teams playing some of their best basketball. The winner of this game may just go on the win the Big East. It should be a fun one to watch (and the follow on tonight's live-blog!!!).

There are a couple of other good games on tonight as well:

  • 9:00 PM: Kansas (17-4, 6-0) @ Baylor (15-6, 3-4): The second game of the Big Monday double header pits two teams headed in opposite directions in the Big XII. Both Kansas and Baylor were expected to at the least hang around the top of the Big XII standings. While Kansas has cruised through an easy part of their schedule, Baylor has struggled thus far, dropping four of their first seven in conference. This will be the first test for Kansas in conference play, and it should be a dandy. The key for Baylor is going to be handling Cole Aldrich. The big guy is an excellent offensive player, but his impact may be more on the defensive end in this one. He is one of the best shot blockers in the country, and Baylor is a team loaded with guards that like to get to the rim. The reason I will be sure to tune into this one: the chance to see two of the best offensive players in the country - Sherron Collins and Curtis Jerrells - go head-to-head.
  • 7:00 PM: Robert Morris (15-7) @ Pitt (19-2): I hate it when teams like Pitt schedule non-conference games (especially against low-majors) during conference season.
  • 7:00 PM: Western Carolina (11-9, 6-4) @ Davidson (18-3, 11-0)
  • 7:00 PM: Siena (17-5, 11-0) @ St. Peter's (6-15, 3-8): I don't even know if it is possible, but I would love to see Siena go up against Davidson in BracketBusters.
  • 8:00 PM: Butler (19-1, 10-0) @ UW-Green Bay (17-6, 9-2)

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