Games of Tuesday, February
Matchup: Purdue (21-5, 12-1 Big 10) at Indiana (21-4, 10-2), 7:00 p.m. EST, ESPN
Rankings: Purdue, #22 in Pomeroy Ratings (3nd of 11 in Big Ten); Indiana, #13 (2nd)
Pomeroy Prediction: Indiana, 72-65 in 68 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 24%
Prospectus: There are some serious matters being investigated in Bloomington right now, and Indiana University president Michael McRobbie is expected to announce by the end of the week whether or not he will retain coach Kelvin Sampson. The Hoosiers responded well to the controversy on Saturday, coming up with an 80-61 victory over Michigan St. at Assembly Hall. Indiana fans couldn't even take solace in that big win, however, as more bad news came in the form of a sprained left knee for star forward D.J. White. The senior is expected to play against the Boilermakers, however, according to Sampson. Another storyline for Tuesday's game is that Purdue standout freshman Robbie Hummel is one of the players who allegedly received illegal recruiting calls from Sampson. The 6'8" Hummel, who leads his club in offensive rating, eFG% and assist rate, has been a major player in Purdue's 11-game winning streak, a run that has lifted Purdue to the top of the Big 10 standings. The Boilermakers are one and a half games ahead of the Hoosiers, who have proven their mettle recently with wins over Illinois and Ohio St. in addition to the Spartans (as well as a last-second loss to Wisconsin).
Matchup: Clemson (19-6, 7-4 Atlantic Coast) at Florida St. (14-12, 3-8), 7:00
Rankings: Clemson, #16 in Pomeroy Ratings (3rd of 12 in ACC); Florida St., #69 (8th)
Pomeroy Prediction: Clemson, 74-68 in 70 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 28%
Prospectus: These two teams went into double overtime on January 12 at Clemson, with the Tigers pulling away for a 97-85 victory. Clemson won that game by hitting 13-of-24 long-range attempts. The Tigers, although they don't shoot very many threes, are ninth in the country with a 40.4 three-point percentage, and are also very good defending the shot, having held opponents to 30.1 percent from deep. The Seminoles, meanwhile, rank 10th in the ACC in three-point field goal defense, having given up a 35.7 percentage. Sophomore forward Trevor Booker had the big game for Clemson in the win over Florida St., scoring 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting. He was a perfect 3-of-3 from three-point range, an especially remarkable performance considering he has gone just 2-of-9 in the team's 24 other games. For the Seminoles, junior forward Uche Echefu was able to capitalize against the Tigers' exploitable two-point defense (10th in the ACC with a 48.3 percentage allowed) in putting up 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds. The Seminoles also knocked down 19-of-25 free throws to stay in it, which is actually a lower percentage than the 78.5 that the second-best free throw shooting team in the country normally converts at. Clemson is at the other end of the spectrum, in last place in the conference with a 62.9 free throw perecentage.
Matchup: Akron (18-7, 8-4 Mid American) at Miami OH (13-11, 7-5), 7:30
Rankings: Akron, #99 in Pomeroy Ratings (3rd of 12 in MAC); Miami OH, #93
Pomeroy Prediction: Miami OH, 64-60 in 59 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 32%
Prospectus: With Akron, Miami OH, and first-place Kent St., the East Division of the MAC has the conference's three best teams. The Zips will need to come up with a big road win tonight to have a shot at catching Kent St. for the East lead, which they might be able to do when they play the Golden Flashes in the last of their four remaining conference games. Akron beat the RedHawks by 15 at home back on January 5, a game in which the Zips shot 12-of-24 from three-point range and forced Miami OH into 16 turnovers. That has been Akron's M.O. all season--the squad shoots 38.7 percent from three, best in the MAC, and forces turnovers on 25.2 percent of possessions, the 17th-highest rate in the country. Senior guard Nick Dials is Akron's leading long-range shooter. He's hit 63-of-153 on the season, which includes a 4-of-5 performance in the win over the RedHawks. The Miami OH offense is much more interior-based, and is led by 6'6" senior Tim Pollitz, who has converted on 56 percent of his 276 two-pointers.
Matchup: Baylor (17-7, 5-5 Big 12) at Oklahoma (17-8, 5-), 8:00
Rankings: Baylor, #42 in Pomeroy Ratings (7th of 12 in Big 12); Oklahoma, #35 (6th)
Pomeroy Prediction: Oklahoma, 78-72 in 71 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 30%
Prospectus: These two teams are even in the conference standings at 5-5, therefore this game has serious NCAA tournament at-large berth implications. The Sooners beat the Bears 77-71 on the road January 26, which started Baylor's current stretch of four losses in five games. Oklahoma, a taller team that is strong on the defensive glass, wiped Baylor off the offensive boards in that victory. The Bears' chief task will be to slow down freshman forward Blake Griffin, who scored 17 points on 8-of-17 shooting and grabbed 15 rebounds in the first meeting. That job will likely fall to 6'9" junior Kevin Rogers, who leads Baylor in rebounding and who had 16 boards against Oklahoma.
Matchup: Bradley (15-12, 8-7 Missouri Valley) at Drake (23-2, 14-1), 8:35
Rankings: Bradley, #92 in Pomeroy Ratings (6th of 10 in Missouri Valley); Drake, #31 (1st)
Pomeroy Prediction: Drake, 78-66 in 66 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 13%
Prospectus: Drake's only loss of the season in Missouri Valley play came last Wednesday at Southern Illinois, but the Bulldogs came very close to falling at Bradley in their sixth conference affair on January 16. Drake needed a layup by senior guard Adam Emmenecker in the final seconds to pull out a 69-68 victory over the Braves. Bradley actually shot much better than the Bulldogs in that game, but Drake killed the Braves on the glass, and Bradley committed four more turnovers. The season statistics show that the Bulldogs are indeed a much better offensive rebounding team, ranking first in the conference and 37th overall, and Drake is also tops in the Missouri Valley at protecting the ball. The first game featured 47 three-point attempts combined, 44 percent of the total field-goal tries launched, which is not suprising considering that Drake and Bradley rank 1-2 in the Missouri Valley in percentage of points scored on three-pointers.
Matchup: Georgia (12-11, 3-7 Southeastern) at Kentucky (13-10, 7-3), 9:00, ESPN
Rankings: Georgia, #85 in Pomeroy Ratings (10th of 12 in SEC); Kentucky, #65 (7th)
Pomeroy Prediction: Kentucky, 66-61 in 65 Possessions
Upset Possibility: 29%
Prospectus: Kentucky, after its blowout loss at Vanderbilt a week ago, can no longer claim to be even the second-best team in its own state. Besides the powerhouse in Louisville, there's Western Kentucky, the leader of the Sun Belt, which is 21-5 and has won 11 in a row. The Bulldogs, of course, are used to being behind Georgia Tech in the state hierarchy, but have missed an opportunity to transcend the Yellowjackets in a down year by failing to capitalize on last season's 17-12, 8-8 campaign (although the Bulldogs did beat Georgia Tech at home in early January). Georgia has the fourth-best defense in the SEC, but beyond a marked ability to hit the offensive glass, the squad is inept in all offensive categories. The Wildcats took the first meeting between these two by a score of 63-58 on the road February 2. In that game, the Bulldogs put up just a 37.5 eFG%, while Kentucky had a 57.5. Wildcats senior shooting guard Joe Crawford got untracked to the tune of 26 points on 5-of-6 from downtown in the win, while Bulldogs senior Sundiata Gaines, the team's best offensive performer, had 15 points and seven rebounds.
Caleb Peiffer is a contributor to Basketball Prospectus. He can be reached here.