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February 4, 2008
Prospectus Preview
Monday's Games to Watch

by Caleb Peiffer

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Matchup: Louisville (16-6, 6-3 Big East) at Marquette (16-4, 6-3), 7:00 p.m. EST, ESPN
Rankings: Louisville, #14 in Pomeroy Ratings (3rd of 16 in Big East); Marquette, #9 (2nd)
Pomeroy Prediction: Marquette, 69-64 in 68 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 31%
Prospectus: These two teams are tied for third place in the Big East along with Connecticut, a half game behind Notre Dame and two back of Georgetown. The Cardinals have been the unluckiest team in the Big East, as they have lost nearly two more games than expected. Two of their three conference defeats came by a combined three points (to Rutgers at home and the Huskies on the road). Louisville beat Marquette 71-51 at home on January 17, a game in which the Cardinals held the Golden Eagles to 30.4 eFG% shooting, and 0-of-12 from the three-point line. David Padgett, the Cardinals' 6'11" senior forward who missed 10 games this year with a knee injury, had 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbed 10 boards in the win over the Golden Eagles, whose top five in minutes played are all 6'6" or shorter. Marquette's best rebounder and shot-blocker, 6'10" Ousmane Barro, was in foul trouble and played only 13 minutes in the loss. The Golden Eagles will need him to stay on the court this time in order to contain Padgett, whose 66.1 eFG% would rank 11th in the nation if he had played enough minutes to qualify.

Matchup: Marist (14-8, 8-3 Metro Atlantic) at Siena (13-8, 8-3), 7
Rankings: Marist, #138 in Pomeroy Ratings (3rd of 10 in MAAC); Siena, #117 (2nd)
Pomeroy Prediction: Siena, 73-68 in 67 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 29%
Prospectus: This is the first of two consecutive games between the two teams tied for second place in the MAAC, the Saints of Siena and the Red Foxes, with the next coming on Friday at Marist. Siena got smoked at home by Rider on Saturday, a loss that put the Saints a game in back of Rider with seven to play. Siena needs to win these next two games against Marist and then come up with a win at Rider next Sunday. Marist has to sweep the Saints and hope that Rider loses a game in order to finish in a tie for first. The Red Foxes do an excellent job of making opponents miss, but don't force many turnovers at all, and that shouldn't change against a Saints squad that is tenth-best in the nation at protecting the ball. On the other end, Marist should give the Saints problems with its excellent three-point shooting (39.3 percent from long range), as Siena struggles to defend the perimeter. Keep an eye on 5'9" Saints senior guard Tay Fisher, who sports a 62.4 eFG% and ranks in the top 15 of the nation in both offensive rating and turnover rate.

Matchup: Missouri (13-9, 3-4 Big 12) at Kansas (21-1, 6-1), 9, ESPN
Rankings: Missouri, #28 in Pomeroy Ratings (5th of 12 in Big 12); Kansas, #1 (1st)
Pomeroy Prediction: Kansas, 87-68 in 76 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 6%
Prospectus: The Tigers picked up a big home win Saturday over Kansas St., which was coming off a huge upset of Kansas. The victory was a miraculous one for Missouri, which due to the suspensions of three players was carrying only eight men, and which was down by 15 points before coming back. A win on the road over the Jayhawks, the most well-balanced team in the nation, would be exponentially more miraculous for the undermanned Tigers. Missouri will likely be without the three suspended players again, including senior guard Stefhon Hannah, who leads the team in minutes, possessions used, shots taken, assist rate, and steal rate. In his absence even more of the load will fall on junior forward DeMarre Carroll, who is the team leader in eFG% and rebounding. Only two Division I teams have had worse luck than the Tigers this year, as six of the team's nine losses have come by six points or less, including a 76-70 loss to Kansas at home on January 19.

Matchup: Hampton (12-7, 7-1 Mid Eastern) at North Carolina A&T (11-9, 6-2), 9
Rankings: Hampton, #179 in Pomeroy Ratings (2nd of 12 in MEAC); North Carolina A&T, #285 (3rd)
Pomeroy Prediction: Hampton, 68-63 in 72 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 32%
Prospectus: If you're following MEAC hoops rather than the Gonzaga-St. Mary's game tonight, our collective hats here at Basketball Prospectus are off to you. The Hampton pirates share the conference lead with Morgan St., with the Aggies one game behind both. This game represents the greatest potential stumbling block for the Pirates on the road to their rematch with Morgan St. on February 25. Hampton is characterized by its strong defense, which ranks 11th-best in raw efficiency. The Pirates are particularly adept at shutting down the perimeter, while the Aggies like to fire it up from long range, so don't be surprised to see an ugly number of three-point misses for North Carolina A&T in the box score. The Aggies, who have gotten lucky in their conference schedule to be only one game back of first place, played the toughest non-conference schedule in the nation, with games against Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Missouri, Miami, and Washington St., all on the road. North Carolina A&T didn't pull out any of those games (although it did win at DePaul), but the fact that the team aimed so high in scheduling is certainly admirable.

Matchup: Gonzaga (17-5, 6-0 West Coast) at St. Mary's (18-3, 5-1), 11, ESPN2
Rankings: Gonzaga, #27 in Pomeroy Ratings (1st of 8 in WCC); St. Mary's, #35 (2nd)
Pomeroy Prediction: St. Mary's, 71-69 in 70 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 43%
Prospectus: The first of two meetings between the two best teams in the West Coast Conference takes place at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, CA, where the Gaels are 12-0 this season. Gonzaga ranks fifth nationally in effective height, sporting three players who are 6'10" and taller, yet it is St. Mary's, 50th in effective height, which is the better rebounding team. The Gaels also have one of the most unique players in the country in Todd Golden, a senior 6'3" guard. Golden has taken all of three two-point shots on the season in 21 games, yet he's launched 79 threes and hit 34 of them, an excellent 43 percent success rate. St. Mary's is the one WCC team that is ranked, clocking in at #21 in the AP Top 25 and #20 in the USA Today/ESPN poll, yet it really should be Gonzaga getting that recognition, as the Gaels are slightly overrated thanks to having played a much softer schedule than the Bulldogs have. Gonzaga ranks behind the Gaels in raw offensive efficiency, but jumps well ahead of them when adjusting for the superior quality of the defense that Gonzaga has faced thus far.

Caleb Peiffer is a contributor to Basketball Prospectus. He can be reached here.

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