Friday, January 30, 2015

Saturday College Hoops Preview

D'Angelo Russell fucked us last night, plain and simple. He finished with an awesome stat line of 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists. If we had bet on "Will D'Angelo Russell have an awesome game?" then we would have won easily.

But, alas, the line we took was 20.5 points. So we lost. And now I have to look at him dominating all the headlines this morning.

All around, not a good night.

So let's look ahead. There are 17 games featuring ranked teams on Saturday, including 4 that pit ranked teams against each other (ACC, ACC, Big 12, and the powerhouse MVC).

Here's your viewing guide, and what I'd like to be able to bet on:

Noon teaser: #5 Wisconsin over Iowa, #8 Notre Dame over Pitsburgh, #17 West Virginia over Texas Tech

Just a trio of big mismatches. Wisconsin beat Iowa by 32 two weeks ago, and now they are going to Carver-Hawkeye arena to face a team that just lost to Purdue. As long as Frank and Bronson play, I'm in on the Badgers (and I think we might get a decent line because they're on the road).

Everyone saw ND defeat Duke this weak, and it definitely puts them in the conversation for a 1-or-2-seed in the tournament. They will be looking to roll on the road against a Pitt team that has lost their last three, and whose best win this year was a 5-point home win over lowly Georgia Tech.

As for WVU, I am almost hesitant to add them into this teaser because I feel like they always fuck everything up. But Texas Tech is reeeeeally fuggin bad, and their only conference win came over Iowa State (which is impressive), when they shot 11-24 from three and ISU shot 6-31 (which is very flukey).

2pm: #9 Kansas over Kansas State

I will say this until the season ends: I think K-State stinks. I have no idea how they beat TCU, Oklahoma, or Baylor. From a statistical standpoint, all they do well is get assists and get to the foul line. They are also solid on defense but not blow-you-away amazing. I don't care what the spread is, I'm going to take Kansas because I think everyone is overrating the Wildcats.

(This is how you lose a lot of money betting on sports.)

2pm teaser: #7 Villanova over Depaul, #21 Georgetown over Creighton

Nova beat Depaul by 17 in Philly. Now they're going to Chicago and I wouldn't expect it to be too much different. The Cats are so balanced that they have six players who could lead them in scoring, and two more that wouldn't shock the world if they did.

The other game is different in that I hate Georgetown, but similar in that the Hoyas beat the shit out of Creighton in DC. Now they go to Nebraska (right?) to face a Creighton team that just beat St. John's at home for their first Big East win of the season. Shooting 10% better then their season average from three (including 5-6 from a guy named Toby) helped, and the Jawnies leaving a touchdown at the charity stripe sealed it. I'd give the Blue Jays somewhere between "no chance" and "if they win it's because Georgetown stinks haha I hate them".

4pm: #12 Wichita State @ #18 Northern Iowa, #13 North Carolina @ #10 Louisville

I want to see where these lines open. I think Wichita State might be getting a little too much credit for their recent success, but they are probably a little better than UNI. However, a MVC game between ranked teams has never happened before in the history of college basketball (I think), so this will be huge for the Purple Panthers faithful. The McLeod Center is going to be type live. Fun note: "the McLeod Center" could also be used to refer to the McLeod Addictive Disease Center, which has nothing at all to do with this game, this post, or gambling in general.

Tar Heels-Cardinals is going to be an amazing game, I just have no idea how it's going to play out. That might be a player prop game for Marcus Paige, Terry Rozier, or Montrezl Harrell.

7pm: #2 Virginia over #4 Duke

I'm out on Duke. They aren't going to be able to score, and this is bringing back memories of Coach K's "line change" game against Clemson from a few years ago.

10pm: #3 Gonzaga over Memphis

I'm still in on Gonzaga, and I think we might finally get a reasonable spread. Memphis, on the surface, is a top-third team in the American. But, they lost on the road to the top two teams in the conference (73-59 at SMU and 73-55 at Tulsa) - and the conference isn't even that good!

Gonzaga is a legit team. The American is behind the following conferences (in no particular order): ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac 12, and maybe even the god damn MVC.

Gonzaga in a landslide.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Thursday Morning Recap

Short version: not great. The lock was Duke, the hedge was the over, and Jahlil Okafor over 18 points seemed fair. 

Okafor was solid - he finished with 22 points on just 10-18 shooting (and just 2-7 free throws), 17 rebounds, and largely he looked like the talented big man that he is, up until the very end.

The over was either 149.5 or 150 so you either won or pushed. The teams combined to leave 15 points at the free throw line. So there you go. 

As for the lock, I don't even know what happened. Duke went up 6-2 early, then ND went up 25-18, then Duke went back up and led 39-36 at half. 

The largest lead was Duke's 60-51 advantage following a Jahlil dunk, and it could have been a dagger if it was later than 6 minutes into the second half. The Irish battled back and Jerian Grant tied it at 69 with four minutes left. From that point on, ND shot 2-3 from the field and 3-6 from the foul line; Duke closed the game 0-3 from the field (including 2 from inside the paint) and 4-7 from the line (including 0-2 for Okafor). 

So, turns out that the eye test from a couple weeks ago was correct about Duke not being that great. They now have losses at NC State and Notre Dame, and a blowout home loss to Miami. 

The Irish, on the other hand, are in complete control of the 2-seed in the ACC. Of their nine remaining conference games, 6 are against teams in the bottom half of the conference. ND has to go to Duke and Louisville, but a win in their final ACC game at home against Clemson could very well put them at 15-3 or 16-2 for the year. When you look at Virginia's remaining schedule, they have to go on the road to North Carolina, Syracuse, and Louisville - so you never know. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday Night Duke-Notre Dame Preview

Welp, it's the two most hated teams in the country - with the exception of maybe Kentucky - going head to head in part one of their season series (part two is in a week and a half). Devils! Good Catholic Boys! Tonight on Smackdown!

#4 Duke @ #8 Notre Dame, 7:30pm, ESPN
Line: Duke -1.5, over/under 149.5

Duke (17-2, 4-2 ACC)

  • 81.6 points per game
  • 63.9 points against
  • 49.9% field goal shooting
  • Led by Jahlil Okafor (18.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks), Quinn Cook (14.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists), and Tyus Jones (10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists)
  • Road wins against Wisconsin (80-70), Wake Forest (73-65), Louisville (63-52), and St. John's (77-68)
  • Road loss to NC State (87-75)
Notre Dame (19-2, 7-1 ACC)
  • 81.9 points per game
  • 63.2 points against
  • 52.1% field goal shooting
  • Led by Jerian Grant (17.1 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists), Pat Connaughton (13.9 points, 8.3 rebounds), Demetrius Jackson (13.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists), and Zach Auguste (13.7 points, 6.6 rebounds)
  • Home wins over Michigan State (79-78 OT), Florida State (83-63), Georgia Tech (83-76 2OT), Miami (75-70)
  • Home loss to Virginia (62-56)
Simply put, Duke isn't going to win many games when they give up 87 points in regulation. Notre Dame isn't going to win any games when they only score 56. 

Duke attempts 56.7 field goals (66th) and 24.9 free throws (17th) per game/ Notre Dame attempts 56.5 field goals (78th) and 19.4 free throws (214th). Both teams want to score a lot of points, and defense is definitely going to be secondary tonight. As I write this, the line opened at 149.5. I am in. Lock it down. 

As for the scoring breakdown, here is how Duke gets their points:
  • 50.7% from twos (177th-most)
  • 27.9% from threes (192nd)
  • 21.4% from free throws (148th)
That's a nice balance for the Devils, and it makes sense because (1) they have a great balance of inside and outside scoring and (2) they have elite-caliber players at every position. For the Irish:
  • 50.0% from twos (206th-most)
  • 32.8% from threes (66th)
  • 17.2% from free throws (328th)
On the whole, you'd like to rely more on free throws than three pointers. Obviously, there will be times where the longball just isn't falling. Surprisingly enough, that is not the reason ND got its two losses (they shot 7-21 against Providence and 10-24 against Virginia). 

Notre Dame lost those games because they didn't play defense well enough to win. Virginia shot 49% from the field and 45.5% from three, and they held the Irish to 33.9% from the field (including just 28.5% from two-point range). If the Irish weren't so hot from three, that game could have been really ugly. Against Providence, the Irish shot a pretty respectable 50% from the field and 33.3% from three, but PC shot 56%, including 14-19 from the field for 38 points (!!) out of LaDontae Henton. 

It's easy to expect the Duke-ND game to play out similar to the Providence-ND game. Both teams are going to score a lot, but Duke might be able to hold ND in check by enough to steal the game. 

But, in the words of Lee Corso, not so fast: ND actually has a pretty staunch defense. They allow opponents to shoot 44.1% on twos (63rd) and 33.3% on threes (144th) They also allow just 12.7 free throw attempts per game (2nd) - and that figure drops to 10.4 in their home games. 

Ultimately, I think Duke will prevail. ND allows its opponents to shoot threes at a decent clip, and Duke will likely finish the game making more than a third of its threes. 

That's not why I think Duke win, though. That rests on the shoulders of Jahlil Okafor, who will be going up against an ND team that features 0 players averaging a block per game. Connaughton is their leading blocker (0.9 per game), and he is only 6'5". Of the other three Shamrocks averaging half a block per game, two are also 6'5" and one is Auguste (0.8 per game for the season, 1 total in his last 4 games, 5 total in 8 ACC games). 

Okafor is going to go berserk tonight, and Duke is going to win easily because Notre Dame is going to have to double team him. And guess what happens when Cook, Rashee Sulaimon, Justise Winslow, Tyus Jones, and Matt Jones get open looks? Well, they are a combined 132-346 from deep this year (38.2%, which would be good for 37th in the country if those 5 were a team). 

I like the over tonight. At least one team is going to be in the 80's. What worries me about over 149.5 is the potential for one team to not get out of the 60's. The play is Duke -1.5, and we will see where they set Jahlil's points. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Monday Night Recap

Sometimes, you have to just toot your own horn. We are heating up right now. Eight of our last nine picks - Arizona, Stanford, Frank Kaminsky, Louisville, Villanova, Syracuse, Trevor Cooney, and the over in Iowa State/Texas - covered their spreads. The ninth, Duke, was teased so we still hit.

Last night, Cooney went over his 14 point total in the first 13 minutes of the game. Cuse was up 5 at half (granted, they almost blew it in the second half), and the 14 point teaser was never really in jeopardy. If there had been a line on Michael Gbinije, he would have gone over by scoring 16 points. Then the late game went over by 38 points. Easy.

You can find us on twitter with our picks - sometimes they don't actually get posted here - @jaylike and @tsoupac.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Weekend College Hoops Recap (and Monday Night Preview)

We got a little bit screwed by our teaser on Saturday. Kentucky would have covered, the UCLA/Oregon over would have just missed (but it hit the teased number), Arizona covered easy, and Stanford covered easy. We would have lost on West Virginia and Wisconsin (but hit on Frank Kaminsky's points).

Well, the way we allocated everything, we ended up basically breaking even for the day instead of going 4-2 or 4-3. Fucking tease life, man.

But we got right back on the tease horse yesterday and nailed a Kentucky-Louisville-Villanova teaser (none of which needed to be teased and we left a ton of money on the table but whatever).

There isn't a huge schedule of games for tonight, but there is one pretty intriguing ACC game.

Syracuse @ North Carolina, 7pm, ESPN
Line: UNC -10.5; Syracuse +480

I love the idea of the Syracuse zone (god damn, do I hate that defense) forcing an injury-ravaged UNC team into a low-scoring game. The Heels are down (either missing the game or playing hurt) guards Theo Pinson, Joel Barry, Stillman White and Luke Davis and forwards Sasha Seymour and Joel James. Guards Marcus Paige and Nate Britt and forward Brice Johnson also played through some pain last game.

In terms of minutes played, here are the players who are currently 100% healthy: small forward JP Tokoto, guard-forward Justin Jackson, forward Kennedy Meeks, forward Isaiah Hicks, and a bunch of guys who average less than 5 minutes per game.

Do we really expect Marcus Paige and his plant or fast shi'ite ish to be able to consistently break the vaunted Cuse press by himself? And his team is favored by ten points?

Syracuse has only lost two games by double digits all season: (1) against Cal (at MSG) in November, in which the Bears shot 48.1% from the field and 44.4% from three, held the Orange to 37.1% from the field, and out-assisted Cuse by a crazy 21-8 margin (2) against Clemson (at Clemson) about a week and a half ago, in which Clemson shot 45.1% from the field and 40% from three, out-rebounded Cuse 40-30, and held the Orange to just 2-15 from three.

Against good teams (which is kind of a subjective term but roll with it), UNC has covered ten points four times and lost outright twice. The wins:

  • 90-72 over Davidson in November (neutral court): there isn't really any area that I can see UNC dominated from the box score, but shooting 47.8% and holding your inferior opponent to 33.8% is a recipe for a big win every time
  • 78-56 over UCLA in November (neutral court): brutal night for the Bruins, as they shot 1-14 on threes, got out-assisted 15-7, and lost the turnover battle 23-11
  • 75-64 over Florida in November (neutral court): it's tough to win when you shoot 32.8% from the field and 22.2% from three, as the Gators did here. That becomes even tougher when you allow your opponent to shoot 45.1% and 50%. Heels probably should have won by even more
  • 74-50 over Clemson in January (at Clemson): another case of absolute embarrassment, the Heels held Clemson to 28.3% from the field, 6-26 from three, out-rebounded the Tigers 49-30 and out-assisted them 20-8. Woof
But what about the games UNC has lost? Not counting their loss to Kentucky, there are only three: 
  • 74-66 to Butler (in the Bahamas): as a product of their 57-40 rebounding advantage, Butler attempted 15 more shots (12 more threes). The Bulldogs also held UNC to 4-16 from three, and those three stats basically decided the game
  • 60-55 to Iowa (at home): the Heels, who usually shoot pretty well from the field, shot just 27.9% from the field and 17.4% from three. The game was tight on the boards (46-42 in favor of UNC) and in terms of assists (9-8 in favor of Iowa). A single-digit assist total is a huge red flag for UNC, as their huge wins have come when they get into the high teens or twenties
  • 71-70 to Notre Dame (at home): another 4-16 showing from three point range, but the Heels almost overcame it by out-rebounding ND 43-26. They did not, however, and they missed 13 of their final 14 shots to blow their comeback
So we know Cuse is going to have to hit the boards, force turnovers, and make shots so they can get into their zone/press. Here's how they do in those areas:
  • Offensive rebounding rate: 33.9% (48th)
  • Defensive rebounding rate: 72.4% (115th)
  • Opponent assist/turnover ratio: 0.951 (170th)
  • Opponent turnovers per possession: 20.8% (74th)
  • Field goal percentage: 43.8% (134th)
  • Effective field goal percentage: 48.0% (209th)
  • Free throw rate: 25.6% (202nd)
Rebounding should be alright, as should the turnover/assist battle. I just don't know if Syracuse can score enough to keep it close. In 7 conference games, big man Rakeem Christmas is averaging 20 points and 8.9 rebounds. Throw in games against other power conference teams, and he's averaging 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 57.8% shooting in 11 games. 

UNC is on a 4-game winning streak against non-elite ACC teams. From a player prop perspective, they've been giving up more points to guards, so I don't think I will like a point total for Christmas. That said, Cuse has a pair of guards that might be primed for big nights - Trevor Cooney is averaging 15.7 points in conference play (19.2 if you throw out his duds against Ga Tech and Clemon), and Michael Gbinije is averaging 12.7. In their recent run against Syracuse-caliber teams, UNC has given up the following stat lines to opposing guards:
  • 20 points on 7-17 shooting (5-14 from three) in 28 minutes (Turner, NCST)
  • 19 points on 4-13 shooting (1-6 from three) in 38 minutes (Lacey, NCST)
  • 11 points on 4-9 shooting (3-6 from three) in 20 minutes (Smith, Va Tech)
  • 9 points on 3-9 shooting (3-7 from three) in 27 minutes (Johnston, Va Tech)
  • 20 points on 6-14 shooting (1-3 from three) in 31 minutes (Miller-McIntyre, Wake)
  • 35 points on 14-26 shooting (5-11 from three) in 38 minutes (Rathan-Mayes, FSU)
I don't even know if Bovada is going to do player props (nothing is posted now, just before 2pm), but I think I'd take Cooney over about 16-17 and Gbinije over 12-13. We will have to see where the lines are set, if at all - but UNC has not been containing guards.

As for the game itself, I had a gut feeling that Cuse was the play, but it could really go either way. They haven't moved from the +10.5 position that I saw this morning, and I'm really tempted to take it. I think Christmas is too good down low, and UNC doesn't have enough depth to contain both Cooney and Gbinije and also break the Cuse press. 

I'm in for one each on Cuse, Cooney, and Gbinije. I think 2/3 are hitting for sure. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Saturday College Hoops Viewing/Betting Guide, Part II

If you missed part one (with the afternoon games), scroll down or click here

Let's move on to the night games and keep this gravy train rolling.

Wisconsin @ Michigan, 7pm, ESPN

As for the actual game, I don't know. I expect Wisconsin to be heavily favored and to win by a bunch, but I don't know how much they'll end up actually winning by.

The real line to bet here is Frank Kaminsky's point total (or his point/rebound total). He averages 16.9 points and 8.2 rebounds for the season, but has bumped them up to 18.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in Big Ten play. That doesn't seem like too much of a bump, but stay with me.

Michigan's leading blocker (DJ Wilson, 0.6 blocks per game) has not played more than 1 minute since November. Their leading blocker that has played in this calendar year is is 6'7" guard Caris LeVert, with 0.4 blocks per game. Oh, by the way, he broke his foot and will be out for the season. Next up are 6'9" freshmen Mark Donnal and Ricky Doyle (seriously guys, be whiter) who each average 0.4 blocks per game.


On the glass, Michigan's leading rebounder is LeVert. Behind him is 6'0" guard Derrick Walton with 4.7 rebounds per game, 6'6" guard-forward Zak Irvin with 4.0, and 6'7" guard-forward Kameron Chatman. Doyle and Donnal are right behind with 2.9 and 2.6 rebounds respectively.

Are you getting my point? Kaminsky is going to go off. 20+ points and 10+ rebounds are both locks.

(Wisconsin -10 looks ripe, and we will see about Frank's points)

Auburn @ Alabama, 8:30pm, SEC Network

I hate this game because these two teams could play 10 times and each side would win 5, but it's obviously a huge rivalry game and Coleman Coliseum is going to be wild.

Alabama has played basically zero relevant home games. They have played teams that are either a lot better or a lot worse than Auburn (RPI 139), but here are how the Tide fared against teams that are close:

  • Arizona State (RPI 137 but neutral court): Tide won 76-71
  • South Florida (RPI 208): Tide won 82-71
  • UCLA (RPI 64): Tide won 56-50
  • North Florida (RPI 200): Tide won 76-61
  • Texas A&M (RPI 42): Tide won 65-44
To their credit, the Tide have only lost games on the road (including to Iowa State on a neutral court) and a game against Kentucky. They looked really good against Arkansas, which cost us money, and I think they could win this game by a touchdown or more. 

Auburn, for their part, have won every home game except Mississippi State and lost every road game. Here are their away games, and keep in mind that Alabama is 51st in the RPI:
  • at Florida (RPI 79), lost 75-55
  • at Colorado (RPI 90), lost 90-59
  • at Clemson (RPI 96), lost 72-61
  • at Vanderbilt (RPI 99), lost 64-52
  • at Texas Tech (RPI 188), lost 46-44
Notice a trend? They can't score away from home! They average 76.8 points at home and 54.2 on the road. The only thing that worries me about hammering Alabama is the potential that Auburn fans could have a good showing. But Alabama is strong at home and Auburn is putrid on the road, so I think we're going to Roll Tide. 

(Nevermind, Tide -11.5 is too many)

#7 Arizona @ Cal, 10:30pm, Pac-12 Network

We just saw the Zona Cats beat Stanford on the road, and I have very little doubt they will beat Cal too. The Golden Bears have won one game since December 20th, and have lost by an average of 16.2 points since that win. Couple that with the fact that Arizona has an average margin of victory of 13.2 in conference play, and it could be a rare situation where I actually like the home team. I'd love to see the spread stay around 10, but I could be persuaded to get up above a dozen or so. 

(Cats -13, boom tease bag)

Arizona State @ Stanford, Midnight, ESPNU

I'm going to be perfectly honest: there is a zero percent chance that we are still awake for this game. This is going to be a hopelessly late start where you either wake up to money in your pocket or you wake up in a bad mood and it ruins your whole day. 

Stanford should win this game. ASU is 1-3 on the road in the conference, 1-5 on the road overall, and 1-7 in all games away from home. Stanford's only home loss all year was 89-82 to Arizona this week, in which Arizona shot 55.6% from the field. 

The question becomes how many points Stanford will cover. They beat UConn (RPI 72) by 13, Washington (54) by 8 in overtime, Washington State (117) by 15, and Wofford (50) by 15. Arizona State, for reference, is 137. 

I'm hoping that their home loss to Arizona keeps this spread down to 7 or 8, but I'd still consider it up to about 10 points. 

(Stanford -6.5? In! In! Hammer it!) 

And, as always, if you want to throw 4 games in a teaser and hope for the best, that can really make for a fun Saturday. Today, that bag includes Kentucky early, WVU in the middle, and Arizona late. 

Saturday College Hoops Viewing/Betting Guide, Part I

Last Saturday did not go well. I can't stress that enough. I only wrote like 4 lines for each game, and I really didn't do enough research. Or maybe some days are just destined to be horrible and that's just how the cookie crumbles.

The ESPN slate shows 137 total Divison 1 basketball games are on the table for tomorrow. That includes 3 in the ACC, 3 in the American, 5 in the Big XII, 2 in the Big East, 5 in the Big Ten, 5 in the Pac-12, and 7 in the SEC (which, as of last night's Arkansas-Alabama game, is my new favorite conference to watch).

I don't think it would be healthy to bet on all 30 of those big-conference games (that's definitely approaching problem territory). But I do think we can all agree that it'd be cool to have a nice 12-noon-to-2-am agenda of basketball games.

Like last week, the lines are not up as I'm first going through these games. I'll give you some early thoughts and hopefully there will be some lines we like tomorrow morning.

In chronological order, here is part one (afternoon games):

#1 Kentucky @ South Carolina, 12pm, ESPN

The Wildcats have really only played 3 road games this year. They won 58-50 at Louisville, which is clearly a much better team than SC. Kentucky won 70-64 in 2 overtimes at Texas A&M, which was a very flukey game. UK shot just 28.1% from the field (including just 25% on two-point shots) and the turnover battle was an even 12 to 12. Generally, the Cats are shooting a lot better than that and cramming the passing lanes enough to generate turnovers.

As for the Cocks, they have only played 8 games against top-100 RPI teams. They beat Iowa State (15), blew out Oklahoma State (27), squeaked by Alabama (53), and blew out Clemson (96). They also lost by 4 points three times in games against Baylor (20), Tennessee (44), and Florida (79), and got crushed by Ole Miss (65).

The SEC can be really tough to bet on for two reasons (1) every team is going to throw everything they have at Kentucky to try to take shots at the king (2) it seems like every non-UK team is capable of winning/losing every game against each other.

The non-elite teams that have been able to keep it close against Kentucky (Columbia, A&M, and Vanderbilt) have done so by keeping it close in three areas: shooting percentage, rebounds, and turnovers. For what it's worth, Columbia doesn't totally fit that mold because the stats make it seem like they should have gotten killed. Somehow, UK only beat 'em by 10 because the Cats shot 2-17 from three. That's what I'd consider flukey.

So for A&M and Vandy, the key was keeping their shooting percentage close to Kentucky's, keeping the offensive and total rebounds close to Kentucky's, and keeping the turnover battle close. If the Cocks can't do those three things, they will lose by 20. If they can, they might only lose by 8 or 10 (Jesus, this team is good).

So the question is, "Can the Cocks get the job done?" They are 121st in the country with a 44.0% field goal percentage, and 8th in the country with a 36.9% opponents' field goal percentage. That looks promising, and not too surprising for a Frank Martin team. But in their last 6 games (5 SEC games and their win over Iowa State), they have averaged 41.3% shooting and 42.7% against. That's inconclusive.

Moving on, let's look at rebounding. For the season, the Cocks are 35th in offensive rebounding rate (Kentucky is 192nd in defensive rebounding) and 70th in defensive rebounding rate (Kentucky is 1st in offensive rebounding rate). They have a very narrow advantage on the boards in their last six games, averaging 11.0 to 9.5 offensive rebounds and 33.0 to 31.8 total rebounds. Kentucky, in their five conference games, have averaged 39.2 rebounds for and 32.4 rebounds against - although a lot of that is their domination of Mizzou on the boards.

I can't really tell if the rebound totals are going to be close enough to SC to have a chance, so let's look at the third component: turnovers. Kentucky normally wins that battle, but it's going to be crucial for SC to keep it within 2-3 (or maybe even win) if they have a chance to keep it close. UK is 17th in the nation in assist/turnover ratio (1.398) and 50th in turnovers per possession (16.9%). SC is 127th in assist/turnover ratio (1.022) and - gulp - 235th in turnovers per possession (19.9%).

Obviously, this depends on where the spread opens, but I'd take Kentucky to win by double digits. If it gets above 12 or 13, I would be hesitant because they're on the road.

(Kentucky -13 is going right into the tease bag)

#11 Kansas @ #17 Texas, 2pm, CBS

I hate that Kansas is ranked this low, but it's probably pretty accurate. They lost on the road to Temple and Iowa State. They beat Baylor and Georgetown on the road, and beat Tennessee, Michigan State, Florida, Utah, UNLV, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma at home.

Texas, in the other corner, lost to Stanford, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State before their two most recent wins - a big win at home over West Virginia and a big win on the road at TCU.

I expect Texas to be favored in this game. I also expect them to win because they have four big men that average at least 5 points and 5 rebounds, whereas Kansas relies on Perry Ellis and Cliff Alexander down low (forward Jamari Traylor has 8 points and 4 rebounds total in his last 3 games).

You would therefore expect Kansas to have an advantage in the backcourt, but both teams have 4 guards averaging 4.5 points or more. However, Kansas guards Frank Mason and Kelly Oubre are probably going to be the two best guards on the court.

I think this is going to be a great game because both teams have deep rosters with a lot of talent. We'll have to see where the line opens.

(Line is Texas -3, hate it)

TCU @ #18 West Virginia, 2pm, ESPNU

Both teams are coming off embarrassing losses to Texas (TCU by 18 at home, WVU by 27 at Texas). I think the Mountaineers are going to win this game BIG. They've had all week to stew over the loss, and TCU just isn't good enough to handle that on the road.

(WVU -9 is great tease bag material)

Florida State @ North Carolina, 2pm, ESPN

UNC is going to be a huge favorite, that's for sure. And they may very well cover - FSU has lost some big games this year:

  • Providence won 80-54 (neutral court)
  • Notre Dame won 83-63 (@ Notre Dame)
  • Syracuse won 70-57 (@ Syracuse)
  • Pitt won 73-64 (@ Pitt)
  • NC State won 72-63 (@ FSU)
And here is how the Tar Heels have done against "teams that are as shitty as Florida State (RPI 135)":

  • Beat Ohio State (RPI 54) 82-74 on a neutral court
  • Beat UCLA (RPI 73) 78-56 on a neutral court
  • Beat Florida (RPI 79) 75-64 on a neutral court
  • Beat NC Central (RPI 83) 76-60 at home
  • Beat Clemson (RPI 96) 74-50 at Clemson
  • Beat William & Mary (RPI 119) 86-64 at home
  • Beat Wake Forest (RPI 138) 87-71 at Wake Forest
This is going to be ugly. I'd love to be able to take the Heels by less than ten. We will see where it opens, but I'm in for anything up to about 12 points. 

(UNC -15.5 is too many points)

UCLA @ Oregon, 4pm, CBS

Some bullets for you:
  • UCLA scores 72.4 points per game (75th-most in the country)
  • Oregon scores 77.6 points per game (22nd-most)
  • UCLA allows 69.5 points per game (91st-most in the country)
  • Oregon allows 70.7 points per game (67th-most)
  • UCLA is 11th in the country with 61.1 field goal attempts per game
  • Oregon is 7th in the country with 62.0 field goal attempts per game
I'll take the over, thank you very much. I honestly don't know how high it would have to be for me to not take it. 158? 160? Even higher? 

Michigan State @ Nebraska, 4pm, ESPN

It's a team that plays good defense against a team that plays good offense (and can also play some defense). I have no clue who Vegas thinks is going to win, but I think we could be in for a classic Big Ten game where the total stays under 100 and everyone watching the game is miserably bored. I'm leaning toward teasing MSU and the under, but we will see. 

(MSU -3 is up now, we will have to see about the o/u)

Part two (night games) coming later. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday Night College Hoops Preview

If I knew how to add a location to this post, I would tag it 'posted from Rock Bottom'. There are very few feelings in the world that are worse than seeing your Bovada balance at $0.00 (though if you have some time I'd highly recommend this Barstool post about a man who caught his wife cheating).

The gang is reuniting in person this weekend, and you can bet your ass that we will be back. To get back into the swing of things, I want to make sure we actually still have the ability to predict a game. Seriously, we have lost just about every bet we've placed in the last week. "College basketball gurus like you read about" has turned into "fuck man why can't we have nice things?"

Nothing like some conference play on a Thursday night to get back on the horse. Here are four previews for the big ones tonight:

Ohio State @ Northwestern, 7pm, ESPN
Line: OSU -7

I hate to see a road team giving that many points in such a crazy, balanced conference, but Ohio State is definitely a better team all around than Northwestern. The Buckeyes score 80.5 points a game and give up 61.2 (both top-60 in the country), but those become more balanced at 70 points scored and 66.8 points against in conference play.

I should note that two of those losses (71-65 and 76-67 were to Iowa, who out-rebounded the Bucks 74 to 60 and out-shot them from the field 47-97 (48.4%) to 47-117 (40.2%). As a means of comparison, Ohio State's season averages are 50.3% shooting (3rd in the nation) and 39.1% allowed (35th).

Northwestern, as you will see, is not as good as Iowa. They shoot 43.2% from the field (171st) and allow opponents to shoot 40.9% (which, to their credit, is 100th-best). They do not get a lot of offensive rebounds, but their defensive rebounding rate is 75.6%, which is 25th in the country. In Big Ten play, their average rebounding margin is +1.2 (33.8 to 32.6). The Buckeyes' offensive and defensive rebound percentages are 33.0 (66th) and 70.9% (176th), so it might end up being tight on the boards.

As much as the stats seem to favor OSU, I don't know if they can cover. Wisconsin aside (because they're in a class of their own in the B1G), nobody has beaten Northwestern by more than 7 points in conference play this season. Though they did lose by 8+ to Central Michigan, Butler, Georgia Tech, and Northern Iowa.

In the end, I think Ohio State will win a close game. I don't know if they can cover 7, but I have a feeling this will be the night that Northwestern's B1G dream comes crashing down. Who knows, maybe I'm just overrating them but I'm leaning Bucks. What I'd like even more would be a player prop for D'Angelo Russell - opposing guards have been shredding the Cats in the past few games. He opened on Bovada at 18.5 points, and I'm in on that.

Alabama @ Arkansas, 7pm. ESPN2
Line: Arkansas -7

Both teams are 2-2 in SEC play. Alabama beat Texas A&M at home 65-44, won 56-38 @ Tennessee, lost 68-66 @ South Carolina, and lost 70-48 at home to Kentucky. By most measures, they are an average non-Kentucky SEC team (which includes all SEC teams not based in Lexington).

Arkansas won 79-75 @ Georgia, won 82-70 at home against Vanderbilt, lost 74-69 @ Tennessee, and lost 96-82 at home to Ole Miss. So, again, we have a team that is a member of the "everybody can beat everybody" portion of the SEC.

In their three non-UK games, Alabama outshot their opponents 44.7% to 30.8% (win), 41.7% to 31.1% (win), and 48.8-41.5 (loss). That loss to South Carolina happened because the Cocks overcame 3-14 from three point range by out-rebounding the Tide 33-23 (13-4 offensive rebounds). In their two conference wins, in addition to the shooting percentage differential, 'Bama has won the battle on the boards as well.

So this game (at least as far as the moneyline) comes down to one question: can Arkansas out-rebound Alabama? The Hogs are 87th in the country in rebounds per game, including 19th in the country in offensive rebounding percentage. That's a yes, give me Arkansas to win for sure.

As far as covering, Kentucky blew it open because they shot 8-17 from three and 16-18 from the free throw line, and out-rebounded Alabama 30-21. They also won the assist battle 14-4 and held the Tide to just 7 free throw attempts.

It would be absolutely foolish to think Arkansas can dominate this game like Kentucky did last week. But, that being said, the Razorbacks are 6th in the country in points per game, 4th in assists per game, 33rd in field goal percentage, and 30th in three point percentage. Throw in the home crowd, and I like the Razorbacks to cover tonight.

#7 Arizona @ Stanford, 9pm, ESPN2
Line: Arizona -3.5

Stanford has yet to lose a home game this season. They lost to Duke on a neutral court and they lost at Depaul, BYU, and UCLA.

In road games this year, Arizona beat UTEP 60-55, lost 71-67 to UNLV, beat Oregon 80-62, and lost 58-56 to Oregon State. In terms of RPI, Stanford is rated 59 spots higher than UTEP, 94 spots higher than UNLV, 69 spots higher than Oregon, and 55 spots higher than Oregon St. In fact, the only Pac12 teams with a better RPI than Stanford are Arizona and Utah (who, by the way, just lost by 18 to Arizona).

I'm going to go ahead and call Arizona's loss to Oregon State a fluke. The Cats shots just 37.8% from the floor (season average is 48.9%) and allowed the Beavs to shoot 51.3% (they average 43.8% on the season and Arizona averages 39.6% against).

The closest Stanford has come to losing a home game was against Washington (#21 at the time, now unranked), who took them to overtime before the Christmas Trees pulled away and won by 8.

Arizona is clearly the best team to play at Stanford, and definitely at least the second-best team they have played (depends on how you feel about Duke). On a neutral floor, I'd love to take the Cats to cover the 4 point spread because they have been playing great - that home win over Utah is really incredible. My hesitation tonight is a combination of Stanford's success at home, Arizona's inconsistent play on the road, and the hangover effect from that huge win against the Utes.

Gun to my head, I like the Wildcats. Thankfully, there is not a gun to my head so I'll stay away.

Saint Mary's @ Gonzaga
Line: Gonzaga -15

These are the top two teams in the West Coast Conference (which is a great name for a conference but actually kind of sucks - I'd love a WCC with USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford, San Diego State, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, and Gonzaga).

Both sit at 7-0, and they've reached that mark in pretty dominant fashion. SMC has won their games by an average of 70.4 to 58.9. Their closest win was by 5 points over BYU, and only three of their games have been within 10 points. The Zags, similarly, have been dominant: they've scored 78.7 points per game and allowed just 64. However, Pepperdine came within 2 points of upsetting Gonzaga (though that was a road game for GU).

I respect Mark Titus' opinion on college basketball, and he seems to think that Gonzaga is a legit contender. In his post from today, he has them ranked 4th in the nation. When you watch them, it's easy to see why. They don't appear to have a weakness at any point on the floor.

But fifteen points? In one of the two biggest games Saint Mary's will play all year? (The other game, of course, if Gonzaga @ St. Mary's.) I am not so sure the Zags can do it.

Against top-level competition (based on RPI), we don't have a ton of info for the Gaels. They beat #50 BYU 82-77 and #83 Northeastern 72-68 (both at home), and lost @ #40 St. John's 53-47 and at home to #66 BYU 82-71. As it stands, SMC is ranked 63rd in the RPI.

Gonzaga is going to be far and away the best team to play against St, Mary's this season. Their RPI rank is 6, and their only loss was to the team that is currently 7 (Arizona). Here's how the Zags did against the highest-ranked teams they have played (courtesy of CBS Sports:

  • #15 SMU (home): won 72-56
  • #27 Georgia (neutral): won 88-76
  • #40 St, Johns (neutral): won 73-66
  • #50 BYU (away): won 87-80
  • #64 UCLA (away): won 87-74
I mean, based on that, I think they could very well cover 15 points. In their home games this season, they average 86 points for and 55.9 points against. Let that sink in for a minute. They have been DESTROYING teams by literally more than 30 points, on average. 

Fuck it, I'm in on Gonzaga. St. Mary's has kept it close against bum teams, and they are in for a looooong night tonight. 

So the ticket for tonight is D'Angelo Russell over 18.5 points, Arkansas -7, and Gonzaga -15. If you feel the need, you can tease Arkansas and Gonzaga down to -3/-2,5 and -11/-10.5. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Night College Hoops Preview

Last night we had Nova over Georgetown. It was ugly. I don't want to talk about it.

Tonight, there are some matchups in the SEC, B1G, and ACC matchup that might be worth a look. We have dug quite a hole for ourselves (Saturday was a complete dumpster fire), and we need to climb out. Tonight's picks:

Ole Miss @ Georgia, 7pm, SEC Network
Line: Georgia -4, over/under 138

Ole Miss (11-6, 2-2 SEC): score 74.9 points per game, allow 67.0 points per game
Key wins: 75-68 vs Creighton, 66-54 vs Cincinnati, 79-73 @ Oregon, 65-49 vs South Carolina, 96-82 @ Arkansas
Losses: 66-65 (OT) vs Charleston Southern, 66-54 vs TCU, 81-74 vs Western Kentucky, 78-74 @ Dayton, 89-86 (OT) @ Kentucky, 75-71 vs LSU

Georgia (11-5, 2-2 SEC): score 72.7 points per game, allow 65.7 points per game
Key wins: 64-57 vs Colorado, 65-47 vs Seton Hall, 50-46 @ Kansas State, 70-67 @ Vanderbilt, 73-61 vs Florida
Losses: 80-73 @ Georgia Tech, 88-76 vs Gonzaga, 66-62 vs Minnesota, 79-75 vs Arkansas, 87-84 (2OT) @ LSU

There are only 30 teams in the country (and 2 in the SEC) that allow a greater percentage of opponent's points from the charity stripe than Ole Miss. The Rebs are bottom 50 in the country in opponent free throws attempted and free throws made per game, and are bottom 100 in opponent free throw attempts per field goal attempt.

Georgia relies very little on threes and very heavily on free throws (they are about average on percentage of points from twos). They shoot just 66.5% on free throws (254th), but they attempt 27.2 per game (2nd).

Georgia's guard combo of Charles Mann and Kenny Gaines account for about 24 points per game, but Mann's tendency is to score primarily from inside the 3-point line. Led by Marcus Thornton and Nemanja Djurisic (who combine for another 25 points) down low, the Dawgs grab 31.2% of offensive rebounds (119th) and 74.3% of defensive rebounds (55th).

Ole Miss has a similar (though not quite as strong) reliance on free throws to create points. Georgia is around the median nationally in both percentage of points allowed from the line and free throw attempts allowed per game.

On the boards, the Rebels are an interesting team. They grab 33.9% of offensive boards, which is good for 47th in the country. But on defense, they grab just 70.2% (207th). There is not a single player on Ole Miss that averages 5.5 or more rebounds per game. Part of this is coaching and strategy - they split their minutes up between a pretty large rotation, and they have 9 players that see significant playing time.

The balanced Georgia team will have to deal with Ole Miss' three-guard trio of Stefan Moody, Jarvis Summers, and Ladarius White - they average more than 40 points per game, and combine for about 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Moody and White can shoot from deep (and Summers does shoot, though he probably should not be because he's only shooting 29.2% from three this year).

Both of these teams play offense better than they play defense, and relying on free throws is a safe way to ensure you score points. I'll take the over here, but I would really like to throw it into a teaser and get it to 133 or 134.

You know what? I think Ole Miss is the better team of these two, and I'll throw them in the teaser to make it +8. Georgia is likely missing Juwan Parker - he only averages 5.5 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist, but he is a 6'4" guard and you can't afford to be missing that against Ole Miss.

Pick: tease Ole Miss +8 and Over 134

Boston College @ Syracuse, 7pm ESPNU
Line: Cuse -9

BC stinks. And their offense stinks most of all of the things they do that stink. Good luck with that against Syracuse's zone and Rakeem Christmas' 2.2 blocks per game down low (I'll take a player prop over 2.5 if you can find me one).

Cuse's 4-1 ACC record is deceiving because they have been playing a bunch of trash can dwellers. Their 4 wins are against Virginia Tech (RPI 207), Georgia Tech (73), Florida State (124), and Wake Forest (126). They also lost to Clemson, who the RPI rankings have as the 92nd best team in the country and the 11th best in the ACC.

I don't want Syracuse in this game unless it's teased. I don't want to bet on BC ever because they stink. So let's stay away.

Tennessee @ South Carolina, 9pm, ESPNU
Line: South Carolina -6.5, over/under 125

Tennessee (11-5, 3-1 SEC): score 64.3 points per game, allow 62.1 points per game
South Carolina (10-6, 1-3 SEC): score 71.0 points per game, allow 60.7 points per game

I'm going to go one step beyond our normal play for South Carolina (which is we say "tease Cocks", laugh like little schoolkids, and lose all of our money) and dig deeper. These teams have both looked too good for either of them to be favored by this much, except South Carolina has been slumping in SEC play and I'm intrigued as to how they are favored here.

South Carolina is just 1-3 in the conference and those games were against Florida (RPI 64), Ole Miss (43), Alabama (46, the Cocks' only conference win), and Auburn (43). So it's not like they got stuck with Kentucky and Arkansas early. They are just an average SEC team.

They've been struggling because they have been allowing a LOT of free throws. Florida shot 25-30 from the stripe, Ole Miss was 18-22, Alabama was 20-30, and Auburn was 26-33. To put it in perspective, if you score more than a quarter of your points from the foul line, you are in the top 20 teams in the nation. These are crazy foul shot totals, and the Gamecocks will never have a shred of success if that continues.

As for Tennessee's ability to exploit that, they rank 207th in the country in percentage of points from free throws (20.4%), and they shoot/make just 19.4/13.1 foul shots per game (215th/242nd). The Vols make just 67.2% of their free throws, which is a pretty lackluster number. But in terms of average free throws per game, the 4 SEC teams that South Carolina has played average 16.9 attempts (310th), 21.9 attempts (104th), 22.4 attempts (77th), and 24.9 (23rd). Even with the fact that those numbers are inflated by their games against South Carolina, those teams get to the line quite a bit.

I don't expect that trend to continue. I think the Cocks will play with a lot of discipline, because none of them want to deal with Frank Martin screaming about fouls all night.

Pick: South Carolina -6.5 (or you can tease Cocks, if you're into that)

#25 Iowa @ #6 Wisconsin, 9pm, ESPN
Line: Wisconsin -9.5

I am largely unimpressed with Iowa this year. Other than their win at UNC (which, to their credit, was impressive), they look like a team that is properly ranked in the 20s. Wisconsin, on the other hand, has been tested very few times this year and looks (mostly) like a team that could win it all.

The Badgers' 10-point loss at home to Duke has no bearing on this game because Jahlil Okafor completely nullified Frank Kaminsky and the Devils shot 65% as a team. Iowa is not going to do that to Wisconsin.

However, the Badgers did drop another game this season. They went to Rutgers (never a good idea) and lost 67-62. Mr. Kaminsky did not play (concussion) and starting guard Traevon Jackson left halfway through with a broken foot. Rutgers shot 14.3% better from the field than their season average, and the Badgers were an abysman 5-21 from three.

Frank is back now - he scored 22 points last week against Nebraska - but Traevon is down for a while. His replacement, Bronson Koenig, is named Bronson and comes from the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin, So you know he's pretty chill. But as far as the skills he brings to the table (Traevon was good for 10 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds), Bronson shoots similar percentages and seems to turn the ball over less. Anybody playing for Wisconsin is going to be talented, and he is - he was the 35th-best guard in the class of 2013 and the 6th best player from the state of Wisconsin.

So the only thing that worries me is foul trouble, because Bo Ryan cannot afford to lose bodies from what is now a 6 (maybe 7) man rotation. A quick check of TeamRankings will tell you that Wisconsin commits the fewest fouls per game of any team in the country (just 13.4) and allows the fewest free throw attempts against per game (12.4).  Iowa is in the middle of the pack with 18.4 fouls drawn per game (163rd), though they do attempt 23.4 free throws per game (45th).

Iowa's big strength is their frontcourt, but I trust Kaminsky and fellow forwards Nigel Hayes, Sam Dekker, and Duje Dukan to handle their business. The over/under is set around 130 in this game, and I think the only way Wisconsin will cover that is if the total goes way over.

Pick: Wisconsin -5.5 seems like a nice addition to the tease bag

Part of dealing with crippling gambling losses is rebuilding your confidence. I don't feel too confident about anything, so I am (clearly) in the mindset to tease everything. Tonight I like teasing (1) Ole Miss and their over and (2) South Carolina and Wisconsin.

If you are feeling particularly fragile and want a big tease, you can throw Ole Miss +12, South Carolina +1.5, Wisconsin -1.5 at the wall and hope Tennessee doesn't ruin everything.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Saturday's College Hoops Viewing/Betting Guide

Tomorrow is a monstrous day in college basketball. ESPN's scoreboard is showing 16 games featuring 21 of the 25 ranked teams (including 4 against 6, 8 against 10, 9 against 11, 16 against 20, and 18 against 24), as well as about half a dozen more games featuring solid power conference matchups.

Tomorrow's lines aren't up yet on the sites that I have access to, so I'm going to take a stab and try to gauge where I'd want the lines to be in order to bet. I might not get to all the games, but I'll hit the big ones.

Now presenting, in chronological order, your Saturday betting and viewing guide (opening lines from as of early Saturday morning):

#4 Duke @ #6 Louisville, 12pm, ESPN
Coming out of the gate hot! I think Duke will be a really narrow favorite here, because the general thought is there's no way this team loses three in a row. I just was not impressed by Duke when they played NC State. Then they followed it up by shitting the bed at home against Miami. Now they have to go on the road to a 23,000-person stadium for the second biggest game of the season. Louisville held Kentucky to 58 points and lost by 8. Their only other loss this season was by one point at UNC. If Louisville gets points, hammer it.

(Louisville -3.5, hate it!)

NC State @ Florida State, 1:30pm, ESPN3
I wanted to include this game because NC State should win by at least half a dozen. If there's a narrow spread, take the Wolfpack.

(NC State -2, I'm in)

#2 Virginia @ Boston College, 2pm, ESPN3
BC stinks. Virginia, conservatively, should win this game by 20 points.

(Virginia -13, throwing it into the teaser bag)

#22 Baylor @ Kansas State, 3pm, ESPNU
Kansas State stinks. I have absolutely no clue how they're 3-1 in the conference. Baylor has actually been a little shaky recently. In my opinion, Baylor's shakiness and KSU's recent run of "looking decent" are both not reality.

(Baylor +1, highway robbery)

#3 Gonzaga @ Loyola Marymount, 4pm, Not on TV
Just do what you do for every Zags game - throw them in a teaser regardless of the spread. Per VegasInsider, through 15 applicable games they have covered 8 (pushed one), and that number goes to 11 if you make it a 4-point teaser). Easy money.

(Gonzaga -19.5, and the teaser bag grows. I'd like a big cushion here though)

#1 Kentucky @ Alabama, 4pm, ESPN
The Wildcats have played 3 conference games. In the first two, the Cal Cats needed a combined 3 overtimes to escape. In their most recent game, they won by 49. The crazy part is all three of those games were against teams in the same area (toward the bottom) of the SEC standings. I have no idea how this is going to go but I'm intrigued to see what Vegas thinks.

(Kentucky -9, and the tease bag grows)

Michigan State @ #14 Maryland, 4pm, CBS
I feel like these two just played each other, but it was just over two weeks ago. That, if you recall, was a 2OT thriller that legitimized Maryland as a contender this year. I don't care what the spread is, I'm going to take MSU because I think they're going to win this game by a wide margin (and I think they might even be getting points).

(Michigan State +3, big time yes)

Syracuse @ Clemson, 4pm, ESPN3
Don't look now but Cuse's "down year" is halfway done and they're tied for first in the ACC. Clemson, on the other hand, was supposed to finish toward the bottom of the pack, and that's where they are currently sitting. I'd love to see Cuse -4, but I have a feeling it might be steeper than that.

(Cuse -1.5, I'm in unless Cuse is missing a starter or something)

#16 West Virginia @ #20 Texas, 6:15pm, ESPN
Sixteen is too low for WVU, and twenty seems about right for Texas. I expect the Mountaineers to be favored by just enough for us to not like it. This is a big tease candidate because I think it's going to be a 3-5 point spread and it might end up being a close game. I'd love a little cushion, but if it's WVU -3 then we don't even need it.

(West Virginia +2, yes!)

#5 Villanova @ Penn, 7pm, ESPN3
The Villanova strategy is very similar to the Gonzaga one - tease the Cats spread and (a recent addition to the strategy) the over. Through 16 valid games, they've covered 11 spreads and gone over 7 times. Add a 4-point tease and those numbers move to 12 spreads and 8 overs. For what it's worth, a lot of the games that went under were Villanova stifling its opponent and holding them to scores in thr 60s, 50s, and even 40s. This is one of those times - Penn might only score 25 points. Take Nova, but maybe think about teasing them if the spread's above 20.

(Villanova -18, think I'd prefer a tease)

#8 Utah @ #10 Arizona, 7pm, Pac-12 Network
This game is going to be tight. I don't want to pick either side to win because it really is a toss-up, but Utah has been mowing teams down and I'm intrigued at the though of them actually getting points. I cannot fathom how this isn't on a bigger channel because it's probably the game of the day.

(Utah +4 is a really interesting proposition)

#9 Kansas @ #11 Iowa State, 9pm, ESPN
I hate this game because I think Kansas is going to win, but home court in a big conference game like this can really swing things. If it was in Lawrence, I'd say take Kansas to cover regardless of the spread. Because it's in Ames, I'm not so sure. Kansas just barely beat Baylor on the road, and their collapse at Temple has me nervous. (Cuban voice) and for that reason, I'm out.

(Kansas +4, in case you want to bite)

Connecticut @ Stanford, 9pm, ESPN2
In my mind, UConn should win the American every single year. Apparently that's not actually accurate, because they're 2-2 and in the middle of the conference this year. Tulsa is undefeated though, who knew? UConn has one impressive win (at Florida), and a whole slew of losses (West Virginia by 10, Texas by 1, Yale by 1, Duke by 10, Temple by 4, Tulsa by 8). Stanford is in the Utah-Arizona range in the Pac-12, and they've taken care of everyone they were supposed to this season except @ Depaul (who shot 54% from the field and 50% from 3, and won the turnover battle 21-13), @ BYU (Stanford lost by 2 despite allowing 29 free throw attempts), and @ UCLA (they lost in 2 overtimes UCLA with 4 players with 4+ fouls). I think the nerds win pretty easily.

(Stanford -4.5, please and thank you)

So our teaser for the day is Virginia, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Villanova (which also happens to be an extremely possible Final Four). And then we also have NC State, Baylor (maybe), Michigan State, Syracuse, West Virginia, and Stanford. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tuesday Night College Hoops Preview

The biggest college hoops games of the night - which both happen to be Big XII showdowns - are also the only games that should be single-digit affairs. Yes, Kentucky/Duke/Louisville/Virginia could all blow it, but each of those teams is favored by at least two touchdowns.

The Big XII is a really solid conference this year, and four of its top five teams play each other tonight. So we're going a little west and a lot south to preview Cowboys-Jayhawks and Sooners-Mountaineers, and hopefully we'll all get rich.

#24 Oklahoma State @ #9 Kansas, 7pm, ESPN2
Line: Kansas -7.5

Oklahoma State (12-3, 2-1 Big XII , 4th in the conference)

  • 71.7 points per game (94th)
  • 58.6 points against per game (27th)
  • 36.3 rebounds per game (115th)
  • 72nd toughest schedule (6th in the conference)

Kansas (13-2, 2-0 Big XII, 1st in the conference)

  • 71.2 points per game (105th)
  • 63.1 points against per game (118th)
  • 38.7 rebounds per game (41st)
  • 1st toughest schedule (1st in the conference)

Where OK State gets its points:

  • 46.5% from twos (285th-highest in the country)
  • 31.1% from threes (99th)
  • 22.3% from free throws (104th)
  • Shooting 51.8% on twos (41st), 34.0% on threes (160th), 70.3% on free throws (133rd)

How teams score their points against Kansas:

  • 51.3% from twos (193rd-lowest)
  • 31.0% from threes (278th)
  • 17.6% from free throws (55th)
  • Opponent shooting percentage of 44.5% on twos (83rd-lowest), 33.8% on threes (182nd), 64.7% on free throws (46th)
If the Cowboys are going to pull off this upset, they are going to do it from deep. They attempt about 21.5 threes per game, and it seems like this is a game where one of two things will happen; either Kansas will stifle them and it won't be a close game, or the 'Boys will shoot the lights out and keep it real close. 

Where KU gets its points:
  • 49.6% from twos (215th-highest)
  • 27.5% from threes (194th)
  • 22.8% from free throws (82nd)
  • Shooting 45.3% on twos (258th), 39.5% on threes (20th), 71.1% on free throws (100th)
I think Kansas' shooting percentage on twos would be 10 points higher if Perry Ellis didn't take ten 18-foot jump shots per game, but they shoot impressively well from deep on their 16.5 triples attempted per game. 

How teams score their points against Oklahoma State:
  • 49.6% from twos (123rd-lowest)
  • 29.1% from threes (214th)
  • 21.2% from free throws (202nd)
  • Opponents shooting 42.0% on twos (23rd), 31.4% on threes (87th), 66.8% on free throws (99th)
Important games to note for OK State:
  • Lost 75-49 @ South Carolina (12/6) - shot 24.6% from the field and 5-24 from deep
  • Won 73-55 @ Memphis (12/13) - shot 47.6% from the field, 5-13 from three, 28-36 from the foul line
  • Lost 73-64 at home to Maryland (12/21) - shot 8-27 from three and 4-9 from the free throw line
  • Won 74-72 (OT) @ Mizzou (12/30)
  • Won 61-47 at home against Kansas State (1/3) - shot 48.9% from the field, 8-21 from three, and Kansas State kind of sucks this year
  • Lost 63-61 @ Iowa State (1/6)
  • Won 69-58 at home against Texas (1/10) -  let me put on my hot take hat and tell you that Texas is super overrated this year

Important games to note for Kansas:

  • Beat Michigan State 61-56 (11/30)
  • Beat Florida 71-65 (12/5)
  • Beat Utah 63-60 (12/13)
  • Lost 77-52 @ Temple (12/22) - Temple shot 58.3% from the field and help Kansas to 32.1%, and Temple's three-headed-guard-monster went for 54 points and 9 assists 
  • Beat UNLV 76-61 (1/4) - shot 44.8% from the field and 42.1% from three, and held UNLV to to 30.4% from three while out-rebounding them 45-31
  • Won 56-55 @ Baylor 
  • Crushed Texas Tech 86-54 (1/10)
Kansas is rolling right now. Mason-Selden-Oubre-Ellis-Traylor-Alexander might be the best top 6 in the Big XII, and their only real weakness is the lack of an elite center/post player/defensive stopper. Against Oklahoma State (who lists all of their forwards as F-C instead of just F), it shouldn't be a big issue - OSU's leading rebounder/blocker is 6'8" Michael Cobbins. For size comparison purposes: Cobbins weighs as much as the 6'5" Wayne Selden. 

Pick: Kansas -7.5. Would I prefer this teased down 4 points? Absolutely. Do I trust this Kansas team enough to take care of business at home? Absolutely-er. 

#18 Oklahoma @ #16 West Virginia, 7pm, ESPNNews
Line: WVU -2.5

Oklahoma (11-4, 2-1 Big XII, 5th in the conference)

  • 72.9 points per game (64th)
  • 59.4 points against per game (36th)
  • 40.3 rebounds per game (17th)
  • 44th toughest schedule (3rd in the conference)
West Virginia (14-2, 2-1 Big XII, 3rd in the conference)

  • 78.4 points per game (21st)
  • 62.0 points against per game (86th)
  • 38.9 rebounds per game (38th)
  • 56th toughest schedule (4th in the conference)
Who beat West Virginia:
  • LSU 74, WVU 73 (12/4) - the Tigers shot 46.4% from the field, 8-15 from deep, and 14-18 from the free throw line. They held West Virginia to 34.3% from the field and just 5-17 on three pointers. The Tigers out-rebounded the 'Eers 44-35. LSU got the win despite losing the turnover battle 24-12.
  • Iowa State 74, West Virginia 72 (1/10) - the Cyclones shot a neat 25-50 from the field. They were only 6-17 from the field, but they got to the line a LOT and finished 18-27 on free throws. WVU shot 32.4% from the field, 24.1% from three, and lost the turnover battle 18-9. It's really a credit to them that they found a way to win. They attempted 18 more field goals, and really this game was only close because they grabbed 18 offensive rebounds. 
Who beat Oklahoma:
  • Creighton 65, Oklahoma 63 (11/19) - neither team played well
  • Wisconsin 69, Oklahoma 56 (11/28) - Wisconsin is an elite team, or so we thought. Neither team shot exceptionally well, but Wisconsin won the turnover battle 21-11 and the assist battle 19-6. That's just one team being a head above the other. 
  • Washington 69, Oklahoma 67 (12/20) - two evenly matched teams, Washington just shot the ball well enough to overcome their turnovers
  • Kansas State 66, Oklahoma 63 (1/10) - I touched on KSU and how they stink earlier, but Oklahoma stunk more this game. They shot 40.4% from the field, 33.3% from three, 63.2% from the line, and lost the rebounds/assists/turnovers battles. Woof. 
At this point, I'm leaning towards WVU. I think they are underrated, and I think Oklahoma is properly rated in the late teens. I just want to confirm some stats to make sure this isn't a bonehead bet.

Oklahoma gets 53.9% of its points from two pointers, which is 98th-most in the country. That's the most heavily that OU relies on any area of the court (relative to other teams), and they shoot 49.3% on twos, which is a pretty pedestrian 119th in the country. 

West Virginia allows twos to make up only 48.6% of their opponents' points, which is 94th in the country. However, they allow their opponents to make 49.8% of twos, which is just 246th. 

On the other side of the ball, WVU also tends to lean pretty heavily on twos (55.2% of their points, 70th-most in the nation).  Similar to the Sooners, they shoot a less-than-stellar 48.0% from two (161st in the country). 

On defense, Oklahoma allows its opponents to score 54.5% of their points from two (76th-most in the country), but allows them to shoot just 40.6% (12th-lowest in the country). So figure that one out. 

Pick: I hate it. I hate this game and I hate betting it from either side. Stick with Kansas and save yourself the despair. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Friday Night College Hoops Picks

Last night was heartbreaking. Statistically, LSU was the lock of the week. Then their two best players (both forwards, mind you) combined to shoot 7-23 from the field and just 4-13 from the foul line. The team as a whole shot just 36.4% from the field, 27.3% from three point range, and 56.5% from the free throw line. They left ten points at the charity stripe, which is NOT what you want to see when the game was tied at the end of regulation and the spread was just 2 points. LSU has 19 turnovers on the night, including two in the final two minutes that were passes dropped right out of bounds.

Credit to Mizzou, though. Without their star freshman guard with a French Canadian name and with just 7,500 people in attendance, they had 5 players score 9+ points (balanced between 2 guards and 3 forwards). With everyone healthy, they would have a pretty solid 8-man rotation.

But fuck, man. I have no idea how they beat LSU last night.

Tonight, there are only three games in all of D-1 college basketball. They are showdowns in the MAC, the MAAC, and the Horizon League. Here is the most degenerate post I have ever written on this site:

Akron @ Toledo, 7pm, ESPNU
Line: Toledo -5.5

What Akron (10-4, 1-0 MAC) does:

  • 245th strongest schedule in the country (8th of out 12 teams in the MAC)
  • 69.8 points per game is 138th in the country
  • 60.4 points allowed per game is 55th in the country
  • 35.6 rebounds per game is 153rd in the country
  • Notable non-conference games: beat Southern Cal 66-46, lost 79-51 to Miami, beat South Carolina 68-63, lost 78-72 @ Penn State
What Toledo (8-6, 0-1 MAC) does:
  • 208th strongest schedule in the country (6th in the MAC)
  • 74.3 points per game is 46th in the country
  • 68.6 points allowed per game is 240th in the country
  • 35.9 rebounds per game is 134th in the country
  • Notable non-conference games: lost 87-78 @ VCU, lost 78-68 @ Oregon, lost 82-79 at home to Detroit, lost 86-69 @ Duke
Going in, it seems like Akron +6 is going to be the easy play. Before the season, Akron was picked to win the MAC East and Toledo was picked to win the MAC West. This should be a heavyweight fight in America's favorite conference, but Toledo has been pretty disappointing so far this year.

Akron's preseason all-conference forward Demetrius Treadwell has played just one game this season (suspended indefinitely for assaulting a female). He only played the first game of the year, so the team stats pretty accurately reflect the team they'll have tonight (but that preseason ranking may not).

Toledo, on the other hand, has a pair of preseason all-conference guards, Juice Brown and Justin Drummond. They have played all 14 games, average 30 and 32 minutes respectively, and combine for 27.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and shoot 44.3% on field goals, 42.6% on threes, and 78.7% on free throws. 

Akron gets just 41.1% of their points from 2-pointers, which is the 10th-lowest number in the country. They are in the middle of the pack (240th) with 19.5% of points from free throws. They make it up by getting 39.3% from 3-pointers, 11th-most in the country. The Zips hit 34.8% of their threes, which is 127th in the country. 

Toledo allows their opponents to shoot 33.8% from three, which is 183rd in the country. They allow their opponents to get 31.2% of their points from beyond the arc, which is the 72nd largest percentage in the country. That looks to be advantage: Akron. 

On offense, Toledo is split pretty near the national average between twos-threes-ones (50.2%-28.3%-21.5%), and that balanced split comes with pretty impressive percentages for each: they shoot 49.4% on twos (117th), 38.0% on threes (42nd), and 74.9% on free throws (23rd). 

Akron's defense matches Toledo's offense in that they don't allow one area of the court to be dominated. Their opponents' split is 50.5%-30.3%-19.2%, so the Zips could be vulnerable to a team that wants to shoot (and can make) a lot of threes. Toledo is not an overly aggressive team from long range, but they can certainly stroke it if it's there. 

In terms of rebounds per game, Akron and Toledo are about as close as you can get. They each snag about 30% of available offensive rebounds, and Toledo snags about 1% more defensive rebounds. Call it a was on the boards. 

This game comes down to one thing: can Akron shoot threes as well as they have all season? If they hit their average for the year (which is right around Toledo's defensive average), then they will cover easily and might even win. Here's how Toledo fared against teams that like to shoot from distance (I cut it off at top-100 in terms of percentage of points that come from threes):
  • Beat Northern Arizona 71-58 and held them to 6-22 (27.3%) from deep. NAU shoots 34.1% on the year and gets 32.1% of their points from threes, but they are a middle-of-the-pack Big Sky team so that doesn't hold too much weight.
  • Lost 87-78 at VCU, who shot 9-25 (36.0%) from long range. VCU scores 35.0% of their points from distance (40th), and they shoot 35.9% on the year (100th). This is a more fair comparison, but VCU is undoubtedly a better team than Akron. A little bit of a too cold/too hot situation for these first two games.
  • Lost 81-79 at Oakland, who shot 10-20 (50%) from three. For the year, threes make up 31.2% of Oakland's points (93rd) and they make 34.8% of their threes (130th).
  • I left out Cleveland State and Chicago State because they get a lot of their points from three, but they also stink. I left out Duke because they are in a completely different class of talent. 
  • Most recently, they lost 65-62 at home to Central Michigan, who average 40.9% of their points from three and make 40.5% of their threes (6th and 10th in the country). Against Toledo, CMU shot just 7-25 (28%). Toledo did everything they needed to do to win, except they lost the turnover battle 13-4. 
So where that leaves us is Akron should win. They should be able to shoot and make three point shots, and their 17.4% turnover ratio should mean they don't lose the turnover battle against Toledo, who turn it over on 18.8% of possessions. I don't love Akron, but 5.5 points is a lot - especially because they could blow it open and win by 10.

Pick: Akron +5.5

Quinnipiac @ Monmouth, 7pm, ESPN3
Line: Monmouth -1.5

There are 29 ESPN channels on TV, and this game is not good enough to be shown on any of them. Let's preview it! (Sorry, mom.)

What Quinnipiac (6-7, 0-4 MAAC) does:

  • Lead the nation in rebounding with 46.0 rebounds per game
  • Lose MAAC games by an average of 9.8 points per game, while out-rebounding those opponents by 10.5 boards per game
  • Score 69.4 points per game (146th) and give up 68.3 (232nd) for the season
  • Strength of schedule: 234 (4th in the 11-team MAAC)
What Monmouth (7-7, 4-0 MAAC) does:
  • Dominate the conference (not actually dominating other than their 16-point win over Niagara, but they are undefeated)
  • Score 64.1 points per game (268th) and give up 63.4 (121st)
  • Strength of schedule: 255 (5th in the MAAC)
QU's offense:
  • Just 42.7% of their points come from 2s, which is 312th out of 351 teams. They make 42.7% of their twos (312th)
  • Just 21.0% of their points come from 3s, which is 316th. They make 28.8% of their threes (313th)
  • Transitive property, they get 25.7% of their points from free throws, which is 16th-most in the nation. They shoot 23 free throws per game (60th), and they make 77.6% of them (4th)
  • Their 41.9% offensive rebounding rate is the 4th best in the country (behind Kentucky, Baylor and UNC). That's even better than their 76.2% defensive rebounding rate, which is 26th in the nation
So Quinnipiac needs to get to the line to score points. Monmouth commits 19.3 fouls per game (222nd fewest), allows 19.6 free throws per game (148th fewest), and allows free throws to make up 21.6% of opponents' points (219th fewest). It seems like QU is going to be able to get to the line 20+ times, which is a huge plus for their chances. 

On the other side, Monmouth's offense:
  • They don't lean too heavily on any particular area of the court, scoring 51.9% from two point shots (150th), 26.7% from threes (213th), and 21.4% from free throws (150th)
  • They shoot the ball fairly well from all three zones (121st/141st/68th in 2s/3s/FTs)
  • They grab only 25.1% of offensive rebounds, which is 284th in the country (their defensive rate, by comparison, is an even more terrible 66.4% - 307th)
Do you guys know any bookies who have a pointspread on the rebounding totals? I would like to hammer QU. No? No bookies have rebound lines for a Friday night MAAC game? I need to get some friends? What?

As noted above, Quinnipiac have shown that out-rebounding opponents doesn't turn into wins. To find out how they do that, let's look at how they've gotten their wins against teams in the top half of the RPI rankings (note: Monmouth's RPI is 186):
  • Yale (RPI 65): Not a great sign for your tournament chances that the best team you've beaten is Yale, guys. Oh and by the way it was the very first game of the season, at home, and it took 2 overtimes. Yale shot just 38.5% from the field (they average 43.4%). They were just under their average from three and just over their average from the free throw line. QU out-rebounded Yale 54-38 and out-assisted them 21-11, and that allowed them to overcome their -6 turnover margin to squeak out the win. 
  • Oregon State (RPI 125): Did people know that Gary Payton Jr plays for Oregon State? What an idiot! I'd be at Arizona State or FSU tearing it up. The entire state of Oregon is for people who wear flannel, and that is most certainly not what I think of when I think of Gary Payton. QU won this game because they dominated the boards (46-27, including 18-6 in offensive rebounds) and held OSU to 39.6% shooting (they average 43.9%). There have been games where QU dominated the boards but lost, but this was not one of those situations. 
  • Lehigh (RPI 156): QU smoked Lehigh by 25 points. They out-rebounded them 53-30, out-assisted them 22-12, and (the biggest reason) attempted 18 more shots. Eighteen! That's what rebounding gets you, and that's the reason a solid rebounding team like QU scares me. 
I feel very similar to how I felt yesterday about the LSU-Iowa game. There is one team that is clearly better and they should cover the small spread. This game features a team that rebounds the ball but can't score, and another that has a very shallow 4-0 record and looks ready for their first conference loss. At the end of the day, you have to bet on the better team. That's gambling rule number one. 

Pick: Monmouth -1.5

Green Bay @ Milwaukee, 9pm, ESPNU
Line: Green Bay -9

The second half of tonight's epic ESPNU doubleheader is going to be a Horizon League beatdown. Tale of the tape:
  • RPI ranking: Green Bay 63rd, Milwaukee 300th
  • Conference record: GB 1-0, UWM 0-2
  • Overall record: GB 12-3, UWM 5-11
  • Avg margin against non-major D1 teams: GB 64.9-55.5, UWM 62.9-70.0
If you want to tease, then tease. I don't need to write a lot here, just take Green Bay and thank me later. 

Pick: Green Bay -9

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Wednesday Night College Hoops Preview

The 3 games featuring ranked teams tonight feature a 3 touchdown spread, a Conference USA matchup, and a 10:30pm tip-off. No dice.

But there are two 7pm games games featuring conferences that matter and teams that are decent (and we can all be in bed by 9:30 because working is the worst). So we're going to look into them and hopefully find some easy money.

Michigan State @ Iowa, 7pm, ESPN
Line: Iowa -2.5

What MSU (10-5, 1-1 Big Ten) does:

  • 5th in the nation in assists per game & 11th in assist/turnover ratio
  • 27th in the nation in rebounds per game, made up of a 34.6% offensive rebounding percentage (40th) and a 78.3% defensive rebounding percentage (9th)
  • 49th in the country at 74.1 points per game, made up of 53.1% from 2s (121st), 31.9% from 3s (85th), and just 15% from free throws (345th/351)
  • 49th in the country at 60.1 points allowed per game, made up of 51.5% from 2s (196th), 25.6% from 3s (94th), and 22.9% from free throws (264th)
  • 11th in the country at 40.1% from three point range
  • In road games: lost 79-78 (OT) at Notre Dame, won 64-59 at Navy
Right off the bat, we can see three big things. They have an efficient offense that relies on a lot of three pointers and not a lot of free throws. They also give up quite a few free throws, but are otherwise pretty staunch on defense. Third, they are a great rebounding team. 

What Iowa (11-4, 2-0 Big Ten) does:
  • 32nd in the nation is rebounds per game, made up of 34.1% offensive rebounding percentage (51st) and 72.3% defensive rebounding percentage (118th)
  • 117th in the country at 70.7 points scored per game, made up of 49.6% from 2s (212th), 25.8% from 3s (228th), and 24/6% from free throws (32nd)
  • 39th in the country at 59.3 points against per game, made up of 53.5% from 2s (264th), 29.0% from 3s (205th), and 17.4% from free throws (53rd)
  • 78th in the country with 22.4 free throw attempts per game, and they make 77.7% of them (4th in the country)
  • In big home games: beat Nebraska 70-59, lost to Iowa State 90-75
Matching this up with the MSU stats, we see that Iowa should have no trouble getting to the free throw line, but might have trouble scoring otherwise. They also appear to be in for a difficult night trying to stop MSU from the field. I'd call it about a tie on the boards, which is surprising because Iowa's four best players are two forwards and two centers (MSU has no centers on the roster and their tallest player is listed at 6'9"). 

The pick depends on how you feel about two pieces: (1) is MSU going to shoot anywhere close to their usual numbers? (2) does the home crowd matter enough? I would answer Yes-No and take Sparty +2.5, but it's not quite the lock I was looking for tonight.

LSU @ Missouri, 7pm, ESPN2
Line: LSU -3

What LSU (11-2, 0-0 SEC) does:

  • 14th in the country with 40.9 rebounds per game
  • 17th in the country with 16.8 assists per game
  • 40th in the country with 75.6 points per game
  • 10th in the country with 28.4 rebounds per game allowed
  • 12th in the country with 6.0 blocks per game
  • In road games: won 79-70 @ UAB, won 74-73 @ West Virginia
  • 142nd-toughest schedule (3rd-easiest in the SEC)
What Mizzou (6-7, 0-0 SEC) does:
  • Stink
  • 240th in the country in points per game at 65.4
  • 205th in the country in points allowed per game at 67.2
  • Granted, they have the 30th most difficult schedule in the country (3rd toughest in the SEC)
  • 242nd in the country with 33.5 rebounds per game
  • 310th in the country with 10.2 assists per game
I almost don't even want to go any deeper. Just hammer LSU and count your money. But I will, because I want to make sure we're really going to call this a lock. And because life in the cube is a dull, dreary place.

How LSU scores:
  • 75.6 points per game is the 34th-most in the nation
  • 63.5% of their points come from 2-pointers, 4th best in the nation behind Presbyterian, South Florida, and Cal State Northridge
  • Just 19.2% of their points come from 3-pointers, 16th-fewest in the country
  • Just 17.3% of their points come from free throws, 39th-fewest in the country
  • 0.291 free throw attempts per field goal attempt is 323rd in the country
How you can score on Mizzou:
  • 67.2 points per game is the 205th-best in the nation
  • 47.4% of points come from 2-pointers, 66th-fewest in the country
  • 27.6% come from 3-pointers, 157th-fewest in the country
  • 24.9% come from free throws, 43rd-most in the country

How Mizzou scores:
  • 65.4 points per game is the 240th-best in the nation
  • 49% of points come from 2-pointers, 229th-most in the nation
  • 29% come from 3-pointers, 154th-most in the nation
  • 22% come from free throws, 122nd-most in the nation
  • 0.412 free throw attempts per field goal attempt is 89th in the country

    How you can score on LSU:
    • 65.6 points per game is the 172nd-best in the nation
    • 57.7% of points come from 2-pointers, 25th-most in the nation
    • 26.4% come from 3-pointers, 121st-fewest in the country
    • 15.9% come from free throws, 23rd-fewest in the country

    • LSU grabs 33.9% of offensive rebounds (53rd)
    • LSU grabs 72.0% of defensive rebounds (125th)
    • Mizzou grabs 27.1% of offensive rebounds (224th)
    • Mizzou grabs 70.2% of defensive rebounds (194th)

    Players for Missouri that are not playing:
    • Junior guard Deuce Bello is out. He averages 3 points and 1 rebound in about 11 minutes per game
    • Freshman guard Montaque Gill-Caesar is questionable with back spasms. Bello isn't a big loss, but MGC averages 27 minutes, 11.5 points, 4 rebounds, and a steal
    • That's almost a third of the minutes that Mizzou's guards play
    This is such a steal my head is going to explode. LSU -3 is the unquestionable play of the night. Bet your Valentine's Day fund and treat your girl twice as nice next month. 

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    Villanova-St. John's Recap (I am the smartest man alive this morning)

    Never underestimate the power of stats. A lot of times, we bet with our gut (or even worse, our heart) and it blows up in our face. But if you got into the deeper numbers for Nova-St. Johns, you knew Nova was going to win and you knew how they were going to win. Full post here, but here is the summary of my preview from yesterday:

    "Villanova is going to be able to score quite a bit from both inside and outside the three point line"
     The Cats shot 55.7% from the field, made up of 24/38 (63.1%) from two point range and 10/23 (43.5%) from thee point range.

    "Despite their tendency to play with guards, Nova crashes the boards"
    Villanova outrebounded St. John's 41-21. Jesus. That's even worse than I thought it would be. They almost doubled them up, and they almost tripled them up in offensive rebounds (14-5).

    "Daniel Ochefu has been showing off a surprisingly good post game and he will be tested against Chris Obekpa"
    Advantage: Ochefu. And in a big way. Chief's stat line was 13 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and just 2 fouls. Obekpa threw up 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 4 fouls. I really want to take the opportunity here to note that two of Obekpa's blocks were on the same possession (and Ochefu got both rebounds and ended up scoring). Neither big guy played poorly, but Ochefu shooting 6/7 against "the nation's best shot blocker" really made the short shorts look ridiculous.

    "SJU doesn't commit a whole lot of fouls, so a lot will depend on the referee crew"
    Okay, I missed one. Sir'Dominic Pointer fouled out and Obekpa and Jamal Branch each had 4. This did the Jawnies in at the end - they basically play a 6-man rotation and can't afford foul trouble.

    "Nova should cover and I love their team total over 68"

    You're welcome. 

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

    Tuesday Night Villanova-St. John's Preview

    Coming off their worst stretches of the season (Nova's only loss and two of SJU's three) is a big weeknight matchup in the Big East. The Cats and the Johnnies make up 66% of the top tier in the conference (with those Seton Hall dicks, for now), and this game will establish who is favored to win the conference at this early stage of the season.

    I went on TeamRankings (incredible site, by the way - strong recommend if you think numbers matter) to get some stats, and hopefully we can look a little deeper into this  matchup.

    First of all, stats can't tell you some things. Rysheed Jordan (14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) is back for SJU, which is huge against a guard-heavy team like Nova. The Johnnies lost to Butler without Jordan, but they also lost to Seton Hall with him.

    As for those Seton Hall Pirates, they stink. Yeah, they beat both of these teams. Okay. Fine. And I know the initial reaction to this is "Jay you're such a homer, shut up idiot." Fine. Alright. Here's how those Pirates won those games:

    • Against SJU, Seton Hall shot 10/23 from 3 point range. SJU shot just 5/20. 
    • Two of SJU's best players, D'Angelo Harrison and Sir'Dominic Pointer, both faced foul trouble and eventually fouled out. As a team, SJU was called for 25 fouls (between basically 6 guys). It's tough to win when you're in foul trouble. 
    • Against Nova, Seton Hall shot just 2/15 from 3 point range. Villanova, however, only shot 5/24 (and just 31% from the field).
    • Factoring out Darren Hilliard's 4/6 and Daniel Ochefu's 7/9 (they were both solid) and Josh Hart (more on him in a second), the Wildcats field goal shooting looked like this: 1/7 for JayVaughn Pinkston, 0/3 for Dylan Ennis, 1/9 for Archie D'Acono, 1/5 for Kris Jenkins, 1/3 for Phil Booth. I know that these are cats and not dogs, but WOOF. 
    • Josh Hart. His stat line of 9 points, 5 rebounds (including 4 offensive), a steal and 2 blocks doesn't look too bad. His 3/13 field goal shooting also doesn't look terrible considering the rest of the team. If you watched the game, a lot of those shots were wide open. He was 1/6 from 3 point range, and most of them should have gone in. Hart's issue was the crowd. There was a point in the first half where he got tangled up, tried to trip one of Seton Hall's players, and then they showed it on the video board. The crowd let him have it for the rest of the game, and Hart simply wasn't up for the task. He looked like a lost puppy. Tough to blame the loss on him because he contributes in a LOT of other ways (he's one of the best rebound/three point/defense wing men I've watched this year), but you would have liked to see him stand up to the crowd and shove it in their faces. 
    • All of that aside, Villanova lost the game at the charity stripe. The Cats were 20/35 from the free throw line. Excuse me while I violently throw up all over my desk. 

      That was a really long detour for me to tell you that Seton Hall isn't really that good. Now back to the game that matters. 

      Offensive Distribution

      Here are some stats about Villanova's offense:
      • % of points from 3's: 27.4% (189th-highest in the country out of 351 teams)
      • % of points from 2's: 49.9 %(205th)
      • % of points from 1's: 22.8% (95th)
      Corresponding stats for St. John's defense:

      • % of points from 3's: 29.3% (216th-most in the country)
      • % of points from 2's: 52.9% (245th)
      • % of points from 1's: 17.8% (66th)
      Where that leaves us is Villanova is going to be able to score quite a bit from both inside and outside the three point line, but SJU's tendency is to not allow a ton of points from the free throw line. This is advantage Johnnies, because it means they normally won't have guys foul out (like they did against Seton Hall), but also means they will likely limit Villanova to precious few free throw attempts. Wait, that might be a good thing for Nova. We'll see. 

      On the other side, here's how SJU splits on offense:
      • % of points from 3's: 21.3% (312th in the country)
      • % of points from 2's: 57.8% (33rd)
      • % of points from 1's: 20.9% (169th)
      And Villanova's defense:
      • % of points from 3's: 24.8% (55th in the country)
      • % of points from 2's: 57.9% (328th)
      • % of points from 1's: 18.3% (78th)
      This is a matchup of strengths against weaknesses, and it's going to be frustrating on both sides. Villanova allows, for whatever reason, a very slim percentage of points from behind the arc (relatively). SJU doesn't really look to score from there anyway. They do, however, like to pound it inside and drive to the hoop, which Villanova (playing with either a center and a small forward or just a small forward) has obvious difficult stopping. Look for Daniel Ochefu to focus on staying out of foul trouble and for JayVaughn Pinkston and Darryl Reynolds to spend some time with him clogging the lane. The Cats can afford to give up some looks to the conference's worst three point shooting team, because layup after layup would be devastating (and would kill Nova's chances for points in transition). 

      The Boards

      In terms of overall rebounding, Villanova is 152nd in the nation with 35.6 rebounds per game. St. John's is 65th with 38.0 per. But total rebounding is subject to so many factors - most notably pace of the game - that it's a useless old stat. I prefer offensive and defensive percentages:
      • Villanova's offensive rebounding percentage: 33.0% (72nd in the country)
      • Villanova's defensive rebounding percentage: 73.6% (85th)
      And their opponents:
      • Opponent offensive rebounding percentage: 26.4% (85th in the country)
      • Opponent defensive rebounding percentage: 67.0% (72nd)
      For the Jawnies:
      • SJU offensive rebounding percentage: 26.5% (243rd in the country)
      • SJU defensive rebounding percentage: 72.7% (110th)
      And their opponents:
      • Opponent offensive rebounding percentage: 27.3% (110th in the country)
      • Opponent defensive rebounding percentage: 73.5% (243rd)
      Advantage: Cats. Despite their tendency to play with 3, 4, or 5 guards at a time, Nova crashes the boards. Ochefu can soar for a big man, and guys like Hart and Hilliard often outrebound opposing forwards. 

      Individual Matchups

      The biggest one, for me, is Ochefu down low against Chris Obekpa. Chief has been showing off a surprisingly good post game in the past few weeks, and he will be tested (a lot) against the nation's best shot blocker (averaging 3.9 per game for the season and 5.0 in his last four games). 

      It's not just Ochefu that's going to suffer. When Hart, Hilliard, D'Acono, and Ennis (especially Ennis) drive the lane, it creates space on the floor for (insert any name on the team basically) to hit open threes. If they're running into a brick wall early, that's going to hurt Villanova's half court offense. That said, let me throw another stat at you: Villanova shoots 0.442 free throws per field goal attempt, and they make 24.9 free throws per 100 possessions (good for 50th and 33rd best in the country, respectively). It's strength against strength, because SJU doesn't commit a whole lot of fouls - so a lot will depend of the referee crew. 

      What The Fuck Does This All Mean

      To be honest, I don't know. Villanova will play better than they did last game. St. John's will also play better than their past two. If both teams play to the best they possibly can, Villanova will steamroll St. John's. The inside/outside combination on offense (coupled with the depth of guys than can do both) is just too much for St John's 7-man rotation. 

      Bovada currently has the spread at Villanova -4.5 (looking like it's going to move to -5), and has Nova's team points at 68. I'd bet my car and everything inside it on the over, because there is NO way Nova shoots as poorly tonight as they did against Seton Hall (ho hum, they still scored 61 in overtime). 

      The picks: Nova should cover (don't even worry if it moves to -5 or -5.5), and I love their team total over 68 tonight.