A small but awesome Tuesday Night slate features the Jimmy V Classic, and I assume Dick Vitale will be featured and talk about Jim Valvano for most of the run time of the actual games. They will show Jimmy V’s speech at the ESPY’s, which really makes you think about how long the ESPY’s have been on despite nobody watching them. Anyways, on to the games.
#14 Illinois Fighting Illini (6-2) v. #3 Texas Longhorns (6-0), 6 pm, ESPN
MaximumSam: The Illini have a bear of a matchup with Chris Beard’s fully operational Texas team. The Longhorns are undefeated, though have only played two teams with a pulse: a domination of Gonzaga and a close win over Creighton. Old Friend Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter pair up and combine for over 31 points a game and make for a dynamic backcourt. They’ve been awesome from two (3rd in the country) and will defend the heck out of the ball. However, they aren’t an overly big team, and they have struggled shooting from three and the line. Might be a game where Sencire Harris gets to show his defensive chops. Torvik goes with Texas, 71-69.
BoilerUp89: Texas may be the best team in the country. This is Chris Beard hitting his stride with Texas recruits - something Shaka Smart was never able to do. Our old buddy (and old is the correct word to use for the 23 year old) Marcus Carr is still hanging around and averaging 15 pts/game. Their defense is extremely handsy as is traditional for a Chris Beard team so how the refs call the game will unfortunately be extremely relevant. Texas does have a weakness that Illinois would be wise to exploit: three point shooting sits below 29% on the season.
Thumpasaurus: These illini can beat absolutely anyone…if they’re all playing their best defense and passing the ball well. If we can turn it into a track meet, we can win going away. That’s the challenge though. Let’s test my theory that the Illini won’t get blown away by anyone, because if it’s gonna happen, tonight will be the night
#11 Maryland Terrapins (8-0) at Wisconsin Badgers (6-2), 8 pm, ESPN2
MaximumSam: No rest for the Terps, who are still flying high off their win over Illinois. They head to the Kohl Center, where the Badgers are also celebrating a big win over Marquette. We won’t ever say a Wisconsin game looks to be fun, but at least this looks to be close. The Badgers have struggled in the last two games containing dynamic guards, and Maryland’s Jahmir Young has thrown his hat in the ring to be just that. However, Chucky Hepburn has found some offense lately, and both teams have a variety of guys who can score and defend. Torvik gives this one to Maryland, barely, 63-62.
Kind of...: UW is auditioning to be this year’s #teamchaos. Home loss to Wake Forest last week (who hadn’t played anybody prior to Wisconsin, and then went and got beat by Clemson by 20), followed by a road win over a Marquette squad who had just blown out Baylor. The one commonality in each game? UW got torched by an opposing guard/SF. Unfortunately, it would seem that Maryland has (at least) one of those who can go off. Wisconsin has had more scoring balance—and better shooting—as of late, but tonight could go about ten different ways.
#24 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1) v. #8 Duke Blue Devils (8-2), 8:30 pm, ESPN
MaximumSam: Man, is Duke in the conference, or what? This is the third time previewing them after they beat Ohio State but got whooped by Purdue. The Dukies have a lot of size, play great defense, and relentlessly attack the offensive boards. They don’t play with much pace, so this game will be a contrast in styles as Iowa tries to get up and down and get Duke’s big guys running. It’s a showcase chance for Kris Murray, who has been awesome, averaging 21 and 11 on 59/41/85 shooting. Time to make that money. Torvik predicts Duke will pull it out, 72-71.
BoilerUp89: Iowa has not been a good defensive rebounding team this season, which is likely to be an issue against what may be the best offensive rebounding team in the nation. If Iowa can generate turnovers to get out in transition against Duke, they can use their speed and up tempo style to get points before Duke gets back on defense and is set. This would help Iowa avoid having their shots contested by Duke’s extremely lengthy lineup. But if Iowa is trying to play fast by not having all 5 defenders crash the glass so they can get breakouts after the rebound, this could get ugly as Duke piles on put backs.
stewmonkey13: All I’m really hoping for is to keep it competitive. Limit turnovers, drive and draw fouls, and let Kris Murray cook.