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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preview of Tonight's Action

Tonight marks the start of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and with all the conference re-alignment, maybe one of the last as its going to start getting hard to keep track of which teams are actually in these conferences.

Games to Watch:

Indiana vs North Carolina 9:30 ESPN

Why not get this one out of the way first? James Michael McAdoo vs Cody Zeller. Two guys that could use a big game to get momentum moving in their direction again. At this point, McAdoo is facing questions about his post skills while Zeller has detractors saying he can't create separation. Both do have nice feel and footwork in the post and that should be on display tonight.

Zeller will have to deal with an athletic North Carolina frontline and also Joel James' monster frame. Don't expect Zeller and McAdoo to be matched up a lot.

McAdoo will likely be on Christian Watford most of the time, a guy he should be able to back down a little. McAdoo was quoted in SI today saying he has been focused more on footwork instead of trying to back down anyone, but tonight would be a good night to try to show some toughness against Watford.

Watford will drag him out to the perimeter and force McAdoo to show his perimeter defense skills. Some actually think McAdoo can play some small forward at the next level, but I highly doubt it.

I'm also interested in seeing Reggie Bullock against Victor Oladipo, two energy small forwards I am really high on. Both play great defense and run the court, but their offensive games couldn't be more different. It will be interesting to see how they compete against each other as they should cover one another.

Finally, it may be Jordan Hulls and PJ Hairston that steal the headlines from the big names. Hairston has came on strong as of late and always looks to shoot when he's in. Hulls is extremely tough and a great leader - one of the best in the country. He's slowly developing a reputation as Indiana's go to guy in big games and could steal the headlines.

North Carolina State vs Michigan 7:30 ESPN

Leading the night off for ESPN will be a matchup that may actually feature more future pros than its nightcap. We have Trey Burke vs Lorenzo Brown, both of whom could be drafted in the first round. Lorenzo Brown has already been abused by the younger Marcus Smart this season and can't afford to get worked again. It may be in the cards though, as Burke has been carving up defenses since he's stepped on campus. With the emergence of other scorers, Im interested to see if Burke starts to vanilla down his game more and turn into more of a facilitator. He can dominate the ball at times.

On the wings, Hardaway Jr is coming off one of the best stretches of his career and Glenn Robinson III looks like a real stud. Hardaway will see a lot of freshman Rodney Purvis, who has been one of the bright spots for NC State early on. He has played with great energy and should present a solid test for Hardaway.

Glenn Robinson III may get a chance to step up into a bigger role tonight if he draws Scott Wood on offense. Robinson has taken a back seat to Michigan's backcourt, but has been very efficient in his chances. A chance to see Robinson III take advantage of Wood in an increased workload would be nice.

Robinson may also see some TJ Warren who has joined Purvis as the lone bright spots for NC State. Warren just has a knack for scoring and getting easy baskets around the hoop. He also has great touch on his jumper. He's one to watch out for down the road.

Inside, Michigan has a very smart frontcourt that could use CJ Leslie's aggressiveness against him. Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary move their feet well and understand defensive positioning. Leslie could be in for a long night. Richard Howell is usually solid.

One thing to watch for is Michigan's pick and roll defense. They are very aggressive in their hedging and take the ball out of the ball handlers hand, but leave themselves vulnerable to other open players. NC State has shot 3s at a better than 40% clip this season thanks to Scott Wood and Rodney Purvis. If Lorenzo Brown runs the point like he should (which he hasn't) and finds the open man off of picks, NC State has a chance at the upset.

This is a big game for Brown who has found his stock dropping quickly so far. He's talented but has shown terrible decision making and a lack of leadership. From an upperclassman, that is unacceptable.

Minnesota vs Florida State 7:15 ESPN2

Minnesota vaulted themselves into the top 25 after a solid showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Florida State has started to play better after opening the season with an ugly loss to South Alabama. Both teams can get after it on defense and it starts with Michael Snaer and Rodney Williams, two of the better players in the country.

And while they can really get after it on defense, its the offensive end where they will need to show what they can do tonight. Snaer has been great at getting to the line all year and I'd like to see him do it against a strong perimeter defense and the always lurking Williams. For Rodney, Id just like to see him continue to hit jumpers and attack aggressively from the perimeter. We know his skills aren't great, but he's done a nice job putting his athleticism to use this year.

There are some other marginal prospects in this game - Ian Miller, Andre Hollins, Austin Hollins, and Okaro White - and they all should have some chances to go up against each other. Andre Hollins just dropped 41 points on Memphis and he should be over the hangover of elated-ness that caused him to only score 8 against Stanford.

Also, Trevor Mbakwe will be continued to be monitored to see how his athleticism is coming along. He's coming off the best game of his young season.

Also check out Maryland's Alex Len take on Northwestern and Pittsburgh and Steven Adams against Howard. Maryland has been playing well and should get the win, but Alex Len hasn't had another game that has rivaled his opening performance against Kentucky.

Adams received criticism for his recent play, but its all part of a process. Adams wasn't any worse than he was when I wrote about him at the start of the year, he just went up against some tougher competition. He actually has been showing noticeable improvements each game.

His 13 points in 24 minutes last game against Delaware are misleading as most of his points came in the final minutes, but the confidence that it gives him could be big. Adams was able to hit a jumper and finish in transition and off of a pick and roll. He showed the flashes that make his potential so mouth watering. Facing Howard tonight is good timing, as Dixon can use this game to focus on building off that confidence Adams gained from last game. I expect tonight to be the best chance to see what Adam's is capable of doing so far. He is going to continue to get better each game. His stock is fine.  

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