Wednesday’s slate and what to watch

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Apologies for the slate arriving so late today. And in the interest of saving time, I’ll avoid a lame excuse and just get to the games. Sound good?

(All times ET; TV info courtesy of HDSportsGuide.com)

Long Beach State at Pitt, 9 p.m. ( ESPNU)
So begins a stretch of hoops that could leave the 49ers gasping for air. San Diego State, Louisville, Kansas, North Carolina and Xavier will also be played before Christmas. Hey, Casper Ware & Co. are probably the class of the Big West, but this is asking a lot of any program. Be interesting to see how it all begins. (And FYI, if you haven’t seen this schedule strength breakdown, what’s wrong with you?)

Indiana at Evansville, 8 p.m (ESPN3)
Cody Zeller’s first week at Indiana was a success. Now he gets to face a team that just knocked off the state’s mid-major darling – on the road. Hoosiers will be tested.

Long Island at Penn State, 7 p.m. (BTBN)
Rough start for the reigning Northeast champs, who are 0-2 after losses to Hofstra and ODU. But this trip to Happy Valley is not only winnable, it should actually be up-tempo and entertaining.

Princeton at N.C. State, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
This is the last game Wolfpack sophomore C.J. Leslie has to sit out. Tigers dropped their opener vs. Wagner. Recipe for the ACC’s first loss?

(Also, Creighton-UAB isn’t on TV. Too bad for those wishing to watch Doug McDermott. Same for Nate Wolters fans wishing to see S. Dakota State and Georgia.)

Marywood at Army, 7 p.m.
Cornell at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
Vermont at Dartmouth, 7 p.m.
Mount St. Mary’s at Hartford, 7 p.m.
St. Francis (NY) at Lafayette, 7 p.m.
LIU at Penn St., 7 p.m.
Navy at Siena, 7 p.m.
FAU at American U., 7:30 p.m.
NC Central at Wagner, 7:30 p.m.
Long Beach St. at Pittsburgh, 9 p.m.

Stetson at Florida St., 7 p.m.
Lees-McRae at Gardner-Webb, 7 p.m.
S. Dakota St. at Georgia, 7 p.m.
Princeton at NC State, 7 p.m.
Howard at Old Dominion, 7 p.m.
Jacksonville at Savannah St., 7 p.m.
Florida Southern at South Florida, 7 p.m.
Louisiana-Monroe at Tennessee, 7 p.m.
Mars Hill at UNC Asheville, 7 p.m.
Georgia Southern at Wake Forest, 7 p.m.
Clemson at The Citadel, 7:05 p.m.
Cent. Pennsylvania at Radford, 7:30 p.m.
Webber at SC State, 7:30 p.m.
Randolph at Norfolk St., 8 p.m.
Fisk at Tennessee St., 8 p.m.
Creighton at UAB, 8 p.m.
Mobile at South Alabama, 8:05 p.m.
Houston Baptist at Louisiana-Lafayette, 8:30 p.m.

Jackson St. at Wright St., 7 p.m.
Sam Houston St. at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.
SE Missouri at Bradley, 8 p.m.
Loyola of Chicago at E. Illinois, 8 p.m.
Green Bay at N. Dakota St., 8 p.m.
Colgate at Wisconsin, 8 p.m.
Indiana at Evansville, 8:05 p.m.
Nebraska-Omaha at UMKC, 8:05 p.m.

Oakland at Arkansas, 8 p.m.
Philander Smith at Cent. Arkansas, 8 p.m.
North Texas at Texas Tech, 8 p.m.

Utah at Boise St., 8 p.m.
Grambling St. at Utah Valley, 9:05 p.m.
CS Bakersfield at Cal Poly, 10 p.m.
New Mexico St. at New Mexico, 10 p.m.
Hofstra at Oregon St., 10 p.m.
San Jose St. at San Francisco, 11 p.m.

Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tipoff
At Stillwater, Okla.
Third Place, 8 or 10:30 p.m.
Championship, 8 or 10:30 p.m..

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.