Super Tuesday Basketball
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SUPER TUESDAY TILTS
#12 PURDUE (18-4, 7-2 Big 10) at #17 WISCONSIN (15-5, 5-3 Big 10) -7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Could it be that the Purdue Boilermakers and Wisky Badgers both are flying under the nation's radar hoop screens this year? No doubt that the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes are gobbling up most of the big headlines in this neck of the woods but these two Big 10 teams remain nationally ranked these days with veteran/heady players who are quite capable of taking over a game at crunch time.
Here, Purdue guard E'Twaun Moore (17.5 ppg) will look to break down a Wisconsin defense that's surrendered 60-or-less points in seven of the team's last 10 games while on the flip side there's Badgers F Jon Leuer (19.2 ppg) fully expecting to be fed plenty and trying hard to draw fouls on the Purdue front line that's had its way with most foes this year.
#19 VANDERBILT (15-5, 3-3 SEC) at #24 FLORIDA (16-5, 5-2 SEC) -9 p.m. ET, ESPN
Just when you thought the Southeastern Conference couldn't offer up any more head-scratching results comes Vanderbilt's 89-78 home loss to 13-point underdog Arkansas -a team that couldn't beg/borrow/steal a conference road win prior to last Saturday night in Nashville -and that came just hours after Florida's rather stunning 71-64 loss at 6-point home dog Mississippi State.
Go figure is right!
Now, the Commodores and Gators zoom into this "Super Tuesday" clash with both sides believing this is a "must-win" situation and we're wondering if Florida is the team that went on an incredible 13-1 tear at one point against the M-State Bulldogs or is Billy Donovan's club the team that missed 10-of-19 FTs and dished out only 10 assists in that loss in Starkville?
Note that these clubs will wrap up SEC regular-season play in a game at Vandy on March 5th.
SUPER BOWL XLV ANALYSIS: WHEN THE GREEN BAY PACKERS HAVE THE BALL
The NFC champion Packers have registered a grand total of 90 points in their three road playoff wins at Philadelphia, at Atlanta and at Chicago with the 48-point outing against the Falcons skewering that average considerably -but remember that Green Bay marched right down the field and scored a touchdown in the 21-14 triumph against the Bears in the NFC Championship Game and that 7-play, 84-yard scoring drive was all about rhythm.
Suffice to say, if Packers QB Rodgers gets in a real working rhythm here, than the 2 ½-point underdog Pittsburgh Steelers could well be playing from behind right from the proverbial get-go. No doubt that Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy -a true offensive whiz -would love for Rodgers (just 244 yards passing with 0 TDs and 2 INTs in the NFC Championship Game win) to get clicking from the start here with deep slants to WRs Greg Jennings (8 catches foe 130 yards in the title game win at Soldier Field) and some well-timed screens to RBs James Starks and John Kuhn but what really could energize this Pack attack is the ability to pound out ground yardage and thus take some of the macho feel away from this Steelers' top-ranked rush defense.
Rodgers is in a major groove these days -note that he helped to engineer scoring outputs of 45 points in regular-season wins against Dallas and the New York Giants -but look for the Packers to stress balance here with McCarthy's game plan to feature a near 50-50 blend of pass and run and some of those rushes will be designed carries for the athletic Rodgers.
It's assumed here that the Steelers' defense -the brainchild of head coach Mike Tomlin and his Hall of Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau -- will be stressing pressure on Rodgers here with LBs James Harrison and Lamar Woodley (among others) ready/willing/able to bring a fierce pass rush but don't be at all surprised if LeBeau has a "spy" on Rodgers here and that player would have to be a defensive back with speed who could track down the GB signal-caller if/when he gets out of the pocket (maybe CB William Gay gets that assignment).
Two key stats to watch for as Super Bowl XLV develops this Sunday night:
Can the Packers get that near 50-50 rush/pass split (note that Green Bay had 32 rushes and 30 passes in the aforementioned win two weeks ago in Chicago) and what kind of damage will Rodgers do here as a rusher -could be that a couple of third-down scrambles for first-down yardage might be all that separates the Packers from their first Super Bowl triumph since the 1996 season.
Next Up: When the Pittsburgh Steelers Have the Ball
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