Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tuesday Night College Hoops Picks

Last night was a pretty ho-hum night in the college basketball world, but we are back at it tonight with 6 games featuring ranked teams and 4 more featuring at least one team that will probably be dancing in March. I don't have all ten for you, but I do have both ends of the Jimmy V classic in New York and some Big XII action.

Villanova vs. Illinois, Jimmy V Classic (Madison Square Garden), 7pm, ESPN
Line: Villanova -4.5
Notable games for Villanova: beat #14 VCU 77-53 and #19 Michigan 60-55 (both neutral floor), coming off a 74-46 win at home against Saint Joe's
Notable games for Illinois: beat Baylor 62-54 on a neutral floor, lost 70-61 @ #15 Miami, coming off a 70-55 win at home against American

The Illini score a lot of points, but some of that is inflated by the 114 and 107 point showings they had against Coppin State and Austin Peay. When they lost to Miami, they were unable to overcome the Hurricanes' balanced offense and stout defense. That is what Villanova does, and MSG might as well be a home game for us. Cats win easy.

Pick: Villanova -4.5 (this line is going to move.. a lot) (Edit: it moved to -6.5 by tipoff)

Bradley @ Kansas State, 8pm, ESPN3
Line: KSU -17
Notable games for Bradley: lost 57-49 against TCU and 60-57 against SLU (both neutral floor), coming off a 73-45 loss at Memphis
Notable games for K-State: lost 69-60 at Long Beach State, lost 72-68 to Arizona and 70-47 at Pitt (both neutral floor), coming off a 65-64 loss at Tennessee

Plain and simple, Bradley's blowout loss against Memphis was an outlier. They shot 27% from the floor and 29% from 3-point range. In the rest of their games, those numbers are 39% and 37%. Admittedly, not great. But KSU's defense averages 70 points against, whereas Memphis' averages about 60. It was a bad matchup and a bad showing, and Bradley lost by 28. I expect this one to be closer to the TCU and SLU losses.

Pick: Bradley +17

Eastern Michigan @ Michigan, 9pm, ESPNU
Line: Michigan -14.5

I don't think it makes sense to bet this game with a line of anything more than 10 but less than 20 points. I did, however, want to note that this is a good preview of next season, when Michigan will be joining Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan in the MAC for football and basketball next year.

Texas A&M @ Baylor, 9pm, ESPN2
Line: Baylor -5.5
Notable games for A&M: lost 55-53 to Dayton (neutral floor), beat New Mexico 64-51 (neutral floor), coming off a 72-71 home win over Arizona State
Notable games for Baylor: won 69-65 at South Carolina, beat Memphis 71-47 (neutral floor), lost to Illinois 62-54 (neutral floor), coming off a 66-63 win at Vanderbilt

Baylor's defense is really stingy - they allow the 9th fewest points per game in the nation right now with 52.6. While A&M haven't played anybody quite that good, they have played some decent defensive squads (scale goes from 1st place Kentucky at 45.8 ppg to 345th place Coppin State at 87.3 ppg):

  • Dayton is 27th in the country at 57.1 ppg - A&M lost 55-53
  • New Mexico is 37th at 58.0 - A&M won 64-51
  • New Orleans is 342nd at 79.6 - A&M won 87-65
    • For comparison, TCU beat New Orleans 86-71
  • Sam Houston State is 107th at 62.0 - A&M won 66-63
  • Arizona State is 74th at 60.6 - A&M won 72-71
So what does that tell us? Not a whole lot. Dayton, New Mexico, and ASU are all fair-ish comparisons. New Orleans is terrible, and Sam Houston plays against intramural teams. That New Mexico game scares me the most - but even there, Baylor is a lot more talented than UNM. Let's look at how A&M beat New Mexico so handily:
  • UNM led by 5 at half and by as many as 12 
  • A&M won the second half 38-20
  • UNM allowed A&M to shoot 45% from the floor and 30% from three, which isn't terrible
  • As a team, UNM had 16 turnovers and shot 34.7%/27.8% from the floor/from three
So this was partially UNM's statistically staunch defense not actually being that great, and moreso their offense playing like a team from the Mountain West. Look for Baylor in the Pyramid next time around.

Pick: Baylor -5.5

Indiana vs. Louisville, Jimmy V Classic (Madison Square Garden), 9pm, ESPN
Line: Louisville -12
Notable games for Indiana: beat #22 SMU 74-68 and Pitt 81-69 (both at home), lost to Eastern Washington 88-86 at home
Notable games for Louisville: beat Minnesota 81-68 (neutral floor), beat #14 Ohio State 64-55
For what it's worth: both teams played Savannah State at home (keep getting them checks, Savannah State Athletic Department!) and won BIG. Louisville beat them 87-26 a few weeks ago and Indiana beat them 95-49 on Saturday.

Speaking of that Pyramid, Louisville is flirting with the top rung in the Duke/Kentucky discussion. If they make it through the Jimmy V classic (which is Indiana and then either Illinois or Villanova from the game above), we could be treated to a December 27th matchup between Louisville and Kentucky (who would both be undefeated and likely in the top 3) in Lexington.

But first, they have to beat Indiana in New York. It's tough to compare the ACC and Big Ten so early, because every team in both conferences except one is .500 or better (Wake Forest - fuck 'em). Oh, what's that? The Big 10-ACC Challenge is a thing? And both of these teams won handily in their matchups as described above? And overall the Big 10 won 8-6 so we can't really take anything away from it?

Well damn. While we're here though, fun stat about that challenge: the attendance for these games ranged from about 6,000 to almost 23,000. The low games were Clemson @ Rutgers (6,285), Georgia Tech @ Northwestern (6,133), and #24 Illinois at #15 Miami in Coral Gables (6,086). I mean, come on, Miami, what the fuck! Two ranked teams, including one of the strongest brand names in college sports, and you can't even sell out your own god damn arena. Let's move on before I throw up my lunch (salad, by the way - I hate growing up).

Where I was going with that Big 10/ACC Challenge bit was the game with the highest attendance - Ohio State and Louisville. It's tough for me to read how this is going to play out at MSG. On one hand, Louisville fans travel well and a lot of people like Rick Pitino. I hate Rick Pitino, and I could (want to) see the NYC crowd cheering for the underdog Hoosiers.

Some people might be afraid of the home loss to Eastern Washington. However, those Eagles are 7-1 and their only loss came at #22 SMU. So it's not like they invited some scrub team in and choked away a game where they were favored by three and a half touchdowns (Hi Michigan). I think that loss did us a favor tonight, because I think Louisville wins but not by enough to cover that 12 point spread.

Pick: Indiana +12, but take this one with a grain of salt because I really don't like Pitino

No comments:

Post a Comment