Friday, January 18, 2008

Big XII Weekend Capsule: Week 2, Part 2

Baylor (14-2) (2-0) at Nebraska (11-4) (0-2)
- In a game where confidence and momentum play such a role in a team's season, this is exactly the start Baylor was hoping for, and exactly what Nebraska did not need from the start of conference play. Baylor has played solid and taken advantage of two winnable road games. Their experience has led the way has Henry Dugat has averaged 19 through the first two games and Aaron Bruce and Kevin Rogers have played well. Baylor needs to continue to rely on their experience until their talented youth can start to exert themselves in conference play. Nebraska's loss to Kansas was expected, but the loss at Colorado kills their early season hopes of being relevant in the Big XII. Aleks Maric needs to do even more than his 16.5 conference ppg for this Nebraska team if they hope to do anything. They will also need more consistent play from their entire roster and someone to step up and be the second and third scoring option on this team.

Prediction: Baylor 77, Nebraska 69

#3 Kansas (17-0) (2-0) at Missouri (11-6) (1-1)
- Missouri of course followed their upset win over #13 Texas by losing at Iowa State this week. Missouri is learning a new system and trying to endure a change in culture for a program warped with scandal. Winning will make it an easier process, but to do that, you need to win the games you can. DeMarre Carroll and Stefhon Hannah are going to produce every game, but the team needs to play consistently to succeed in the conference. They've proven they can beat a good team in Texas, but they need to follow those up by beating teams like Iowa State. And instead of heading into this game sitting pretty at 2-0, they will face an uphill battle after Kansas beats them. This Kansas team has bigger fish to fry as they will be a favorite to win the National Title. They can score inside with Arthur and Jackson, have a premier swing man in Brandon Rush, a great two guard in Mario Chalmers, two great point guards in Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins, and even solid role players in seniors Sasha Khan and Roderick Stewart. This team is dangerous. The only potential road block is the fact that this team underachieves on the biggest stage, but they don't have to worry about that until after Conference play.

Prediction: #3 Kansas 91, Missouri 76

Colorado (9-7) (1-1) at #19 Texas (13-3) (0-1)
- Colorado got a big win against Nebraska this week, but will have a tough time building on it on the road in Austin. What they do have going for them is a disciplined system from Coach Bdzelik, that when followed will cause the Longhorns problems on the offensive and defensive ends. While they only play two players over 6'6", Colorado boasts a stable of big guards (3 starters at 6'5" or 6'6") that will cause match up problems for the Longhorns' small back court. It also helps that Texas has played uninspired basketball over the past month, culminating in an uninspired and atrocious defensive display in Columbia last weekend. With a week to think about the 97 points given up, the Longhorns should come out hungry to play. But the uninspired play is the least of their worries. DJ Augustin has played sloppy over the past several games and he needs to refine his decision making on the court. More importantly, the introduction of Gary Johnson has not gone as smoothly as hoped. It has affected Johnson's play (19 min, 0-4 vs. Missouri) as well as Connor Atchley's play. Atchley has seemingly regressed from the early season form he showed, and much of it can be attributed to the Longhorns once again trying to figure out every one's offensive roles. Equally worrisome has been the inability to find any consistency from the bench. Wangmene has provided solid minutes with his hustle and defense, but the inability of Dexter Pittman, Clint Chapman, and JD Lewis to contribute in any significant way has been disappointing. But we all know the biggest disappointment. It has been the struggles of sophomore guard Justin Mason who's minutes keep dwindling as he loses more confidence, his shot worsens, and his defense begins to slip. Mason needs to find some sliver of hope soon, or he will be lost for the season, and probably out of the rotation. Texas needs to take advantage of these winnable early conference games and get back on track as a team. The first step will be getting back to outworking their opponents, and the rest will come.

Prediction: #19 Texas 71, Colorado 61

No comments: