Archive | February, 2014

Thursday 2/27 thoughts

27 Feb

The AAC games feature both Louisville and Memphis playing teams they’ve already blown out this year, except Louisville is at home. What makes them interesting is that Louisville and Memphis are playing each other on Saturday, and both are off tough wins, with Louisville’s win obviously being the bigger of the two.

Memphis is at Houston, who has played relatively well at home. They’ve beat the teams they should beat, beat UConn, and played close with SMU and Cincy. I think the Cougars have a much better chance at the upset tonight than Temple does over Louisville, especially with Anthony Lee still questionable with turf toe. In the first meeting, Temple allowed Louisville to grab 42% of their misses, and Louisville blew out the Owls despite missing 13 FTs. As for Houston, 25% turnover rate and terrible outside shooting (I’m looking at you Stiggers) doomed the Cougars. Those are more correctable at home.

Same situation applies in the A10, where VCU and St. Louis play two teams they’ve already defeated (although Duquesne took SLU to the brink, before they rematch on Saturday at the Stu. I don’t think either underdog stays close in these games though. Fordham¬†probably has the best chance of staying competitive. It’s a nationally televised game at Rose Hill, but Pecora should probably let Thomas and Smith do most of the ballhandling tonight. Whitehead was brutal against Havoc in the first meeting. Duquesne played much closer in the first game vs SLU than Fordham did vs VCU, but Evans got in some foul trouble early in that one and SLU can clinch the A10 title on their home court tonight.

Georgetown @ Marquette

Georgetown actually showed some defensive intensity against Xavier, and they’re looking to avenge an OT loss at home where they blew a 17 point second half lead, but the Hoyas on the road aren’t pretty, and the Hoyas have been known to show major lapses in the frontcourt defensively, which ultimately could decide the game in Marquette’s favor.

Portland State @ North Dakota

PSU has a brutal path in terms of qualifying for the Big Sky tournament, but they kicked it off right with a surprise win at EWU (becoming just the second team in Big Sky play to win back to back road games this year), putting up 1.24 ppp and it’s thanks to the interior play of Kyle Richardson. The Vikings are a very small team with Moore out, and Richardson has stepped up as of late. The defense is another story though. UND should win this game relatively easy. They’re coming off a successful road trip (1-1 in the Big Sky on a road trip is indeed successful). UND is off the Flagstaff trip, and they haven’t looked their sharpest defensively off altitude games this year. SUU put up their highest ppp (at the time) against UND after Greeley, and Idaho St put up 1.23ppp after Ogden. The good news: they won both of those games. UND is 4-1 when Alonzo Traylor scores double digits.

Sacramento St @ Weber St

Rematch from the famous Dylan Garrity 70 footer, which capped one of the wildest basketball games I’ve ever seen. Weber vented some frustrations from a two game losing streak and pounded Montana State in Bozeman, now heading back home to avenge the earlier loss. Sac St playing with a ton of confidence right now, and Garrity/McKinney is the best backcourt combo in the conference, but they’re going to need big game out of Stuteville and Mills to combat Tresnak and Bolomboy.

EWU @ UNC

Not sure how EWU bounces back after a devastating home loss where the defense was shredded and they couldn’t hit an outside shot, now traveling to Greeley against a Bears team that doesn’t lose at home and looking to avenge an OT loss. Defensive was optional in that game, but I don’t see Tyler Harvey going 10-15 from 3 in Greeley. I only see one win in EWU’s next four, which is bad news in terms of qualifying for the Big Sky tournament.

NAU @ Idaho State

Remember when the Jacks were 5-1 in Big Sky play? They’ve lost 3 straight now by double digits and off a home sweep. In the 3 game losing streak, teams have torched them from outside, going 36-67 from 3. That spells trouble against Chris Hansen and Idaho State. NAU won the first meeting in Flagstaff on a Yanku buzzer beater. Critical game for both in terms of qualifying for the Big Sky tournament.

SUU @ Montana State

Seems like I say this every game, but this is realistically SUU’s best shot at a win, even though it’s on the road. They narrowly lost to MSU in the first meeting with a 31% turnover rate killing them. Coleman is back from suspension, but only played 6 minutes vs Weber. Interesting to see what Huse does with him as MSU hits the stretch run of Big Sky play.

Ohio State @ Penn St

Pat Chambers is actually pretty good with some additional prep time, and PSU has had a week off. They had 6 days off before beating Ohio St in Columbus. But I’m sure OSU would love nothing more than to crush the Lions tonight and try erase the image of Newbill totally juking Craft.

Iowa @ Indiana

Both teams on quick turnarounds from Tuesday games because of the Assembly Hall ceiling situation. That doesn’t give Basabe much time to recover from his flu. Iowa has given up any pretense of playing defense at this point, but we know the script for my Hoosiers. Play well for a half, build a nice lead, and then completely stall offensively in the second half. Yogi Ferrell might be chomping at the bit after seeing what Mathieu did in terms of getting to the rim vs Iowa on Tuesday. Indiana gets 48% of their shots at the rim, the 15th highest rate in the country. I think Iowa is exactly the team the Hoosiers want to face right now, and that number could be even bigger if Basabe can’t go/isn’t 100%.

Cal Poly @ UC Davis

Cal Poly picked up a much needed win thanks to the unlikely shooting of Michael Bolden. Bolden hit 4 three’s in place of Odister, who probably misses tonight’s game with a stress fracture, or plays very limited minutes if he can go. Bolden could be key again against UC Davis’ zone, which the Mustangs beat inside but couldn’t hit anything from outside in an earlier home loss. UC Davis went 10-22 from 3 in that game, with Sypkens doing most of the damage. Aggies are coming home on the heels of a 4 game losing streak.

CSUN @ CS Fullerton

CSF blew a late double digit lead at CSUN in the first meeting and eventually lost in OT. Hicks and Maxwell combined for 49 points and shot 26 free throws. CSUN off a ridiculous comeback where they trailed UC Irvine by 16 with under ten minutes left. All of CSUN’s Big West wins have been followed up with an awful offensive performance, with the exception of the first Big West win over UC Davis. I expect CSUN to come out sluggish and CS Fullerton looking for revenge.

UCSB @ UC Irvine

UC Irvine off blowing a huge late lead to CSUN that makes this game even more important. The Eaters should be sitting alone in first place, but took their foot off the gas and now have a big one tonight with 3 easily winnable games after. UC Irvine jacked up 29 threes as the UCSB zone proved to be a major issue for the Eaters. To make it worse, they didn’t have anyone on the perimeter to check the bigger Taran Brown, and Al Williams just terrorized them inside. Irvine didn’t have Will Davis for that one, but to be fair, he hasn’t been a factor in the offense in quite some time. Best way to beat UCI’s bigs is to push the ball a little bit and use the athletic advantage you have with Williams to get him the ball quickly before Ndiaye gets down the court and set. I like UCSB here. Tough matchup personnel and scheme wise for the Eaters.

Hawaii @ Long Beach State

LBSU beat Hawaii at their own game in the first meeting. Spencer and Caffey repeatedly beat the Warriors down court and LBSU racked up a 1.30 ppp. Monson thoroughly outcoached Arnold in that one. There won’t be nearly as many points scored tonight, as it would be foolish for Monson to think he can run with Hawaii at that pace again and expect a similar result.

FIU @ USM 

USM off the big win over UTEP, but FIU’s backcourt vs USM’s trapping pressure zone is a mismatch. Only thing to keep an eye on is Michael Craig’s minutes.

Charlotte @ ECU

Roberts-Campbell hasn’t practiced all week and would be significant blow to ECU if he can’t go, but Charlotte hasn’t won a road game since upsetting UTEP, and they’ve played at Rice since then. ECU has won 3 straight at home, including the win over LA Tech.

Marshall @ ODU

Marshall has played well lately, even on the road, although the record doesn’t reflect it. However with Bacote, Batten, and Taylor looking to penetrate at nearly all times offensively for ODU, and Marshall having a hard time staying in front of defenders and without a consistent rim protector (Sane has been playing better but still prone to foul trouble), ODU should win.

MTSU @ LA Tech

Huge game as a share of first place is at stake. LA Tech tough in Ruston, but they struggle with bigger, physical teams (USM/UTEP), of which MTSU is one. Jones is banged up but should be able to play. Despite Appleby returning to practice, he isn’t ready to play yet. Interesting game. LA Tech hasn’t been able to fully utilize their speed against CUSA elite teams who pride themselves on their physicality. However, those games were on the road.

UNT @ UTSA

North Texas playing their best basketball right now. The question is can they bust UTSA’s zone with penetration, because UNT does not shoot the 3. Bacote and ODU were successful, but that was in Virginia. At home most recently against a team who you would think could bust it with penetration, FAU, UTSA forced the Owls into 33 threes, and amazingly kept Bertone off the FT line. In short, I have no idea who wins. UNT has won 3 straight by two points, including a buzzer beater over FIU. That’s some serious luck factor.

UAB @ Rice

With UAB’s sagging defense Rice will be able to shoot the 3 all day, which is all they do offensively in the first place. Wouldn’t shock me to see UAB blow this game.

Tulsa @ UTEP

Tulsa is hands down the most athletic defensive unit I’ve seen in the CUSA this year. They generally play man to man, but I’ve seen them switch to 1-3-1 and triangle and two’s and not miss a beat. You would think UTEP would struggle against a zone because of their lack of shooters, but their four most efficient offensive games have been against zones. I don’t expect Tulsa to get to cute defensively tonight and it could spell trouble if Manning tries to match coaching wits with Tim Floyd. UTEP has the highest shooting percentage in CUSA, while Tulsa has held their last 1o opponents under the 40% mark. Tulsa not intimated by the bigger Miners either. They swept them last year, and Smith and Woodard were injured for the game in El Paso.

Nothing at stake in the Horizon League games, as Detroit and Oakland can’t get the 3 seed and UWGB already locked in at one. Jordan Aaron once again suspended for UWM, and that team is completely limping into the HL tournament.

Siena @ Quinnipiac

Siena led by 9 with 4 minutes left in the first meeting before losing in OT, a common theme for the Saints this season. With a big weekend knocking off Manhattan and Rider, the Saints are in the fifth spot, which means the final bye in the MAAC tournament. Quinnipiac currently sits in the two seed, but the game has more importance for Siena.

Tenn Tech @ EKU

Both teams playing for a bye here. Troubled by EKU’s offensive woes vs TTU despite forcing 20 turnovers in the first meeting. Tennessee Tech a different team in February, going 5-1 and it’s because they decided to play defense.

Tenn St @ Morehead St

If you have a backcourt that can handle the Morehead press, you can carve the Eagles up. TSU lost in OT in the first meeting in Nashville, and Pat Miller went for 36. Morehead playing for the 3 seed, but how important is that right now? Wouldn’t they rather face Belmont potentially, a team they’ve played well against?

Murray St @ UT Martin

Murray still playing potentially for the outright OVC title, while UTM had their season effectively ended by a 30 foot buzzer beater vs Se Mo. That shot also probably ended Jason James’ tenure as coach of the Skyhawks.

APSU @ Se Mo St

Se Mo is in the OVC tournament with a win. If APSU wins, they aren’t automatically in, but it would take a very complicated confluence of events to keep them out, including losing to a dead UT Martin team. Se Mo gets torched from outside and in transition, but more troubling from the first game is what Horton did inside to them, which is the “strength” of Se Mo’s overall poor defense. APSU’s only road win…Tennessee St. Big game.

Busy day at work, wish I could get to Summit, SoCon, and Sun Belt. Some big games there tonight too.

 

Wednesday 2/26 thoughts

26 Feb

Rutgers @ UCF

Eddie Jordan is going with a new lineup it appears. Etou, Brown, and Kone were played down the stretch of the Memphis game over Moore, Seagers, and Judge, and judging by Jordan’s comments after the game and throughout the 6 days Rutgers had off, that’s the primary rotation tonight vs UCF.

Jack fouled out with only 8 minutes as Sykes attacked relentlessly in the first meeting, but UCF’s defense managed to find a way to negate a huge free throw advantage. UCF was without PG Calvin Newell in the first meeting though.

UConn @ South Florida

A quick dash to Tampa for UConn after the home loss to SMU with a big home game vs Cincy on deck. UConn won the first meeting 83-40 by simply outrunning USF and exposing their lack of a backcourt with ball pressure. If USF can slow it down and take advantage with their big frontcourt, they could keep this one manageable.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Ollie get Omar Calhoun some quality minutes. They’ll need him soon.

Richmond @ George Mason

A must win for Richmond against the “not giving up” Patriots (that’s the best adjective I have for their season right now). GMU has had a week off since the second OT loss to SLU.

Terry Allen’s game against LaSalle was very encouraging, as the Spiders need more offensively from him and Ododa with Linsday out, and ShawnDre Jones has had some big shots lately too.

Richmond is the worst rebounding team in the A10, in every regard. GMU tends to be a little too backcourt oriented at times, but they can exploit the Spiders on the glass.

Richmond blew a 12 point lead with 7 minutes left in the game last year after GMU switched to a zone and starting pressing.

St. Bonaventure @ LaSalle

LaSalle has given up on any pretense of playing interior defense. Ndoye and Simmons could have huge games, like they did in the first meeting.

Bonnies had some major issues containing URI guard penetration in a surprising home loss last time out. If Garland, Duren, and Mills are intent on attacking instead of settling for the 3, the Explorers can win.

St. Bonaventure won the first meeting easily despite an ice cold night from Matthew Wright, due in large to being able to exploit LaSalle inside, and the Explorers’ 26% TO rate. That’s higher than they’re games vs VCU, St. Louis, and Richmond.

URI @ UMass

These two essentially played to a draw in Kingston, putting up nearly identical stats across the board, except that UMass was able to get more out of their frontcourt.

The Rams are basically just the Matthews/Munford show at this point, and need something out of Biruta and Martin to keep pace with Lalanne, Putney, and Esho.

UMass off two huge wins, and look like a much different team when Gordon is playing with confidence.

Miami @ Virginia

Huge game with Syracuse on deck for UVA, and Miami has a little momentum coming into this one, but I love UVA vs a zone because of the the three bigs, Tobey, Gill, and Mitchell in the middle of it. Mitchell singlehandedly destroyed Notre Dame’s zone on Saturday. 5 out of the top 8 highest efficiency rating games UVA has played were against teams primarily using a zone. Plus it helps when your freshman PG hasn’t turned the ball over in nearly 100 minutes.

Georgia Tech @ Notre Dame

Georgia Tech, despite being one of the tallest teams in the country, somehow manages to struggle with height, and tends to get torched from outside. The same holds true for Notre Dame in both regards, but more so. The Irish are playing the worst defense in the ACC, without question. I’ll even take Va Tech’s zone over the Irish at this point. Don’t know who wins this one, and I really don’t care.

UNC @ NC St

Neither team is going to beat you from outside, and despite the numbers, UNC actually did a good job on Warren in the first matchup. He finished with 21 on 8-13, but a lot of those came in the second half when the game was mostly decided, if I recall correctly. Despite their height, the Pack have struggled stopping teams inside without fouling.

Pitt @ BC

A nice chance for Pitt to break their losing streak, because if there’s a defense you want to face when mired in a shooting slump, it’s BC. For reference, Miami just put up 1.25 ppp on them on Saturday.

West Virginia @ Iowa State

I think we all remember how the first meeting went between these two. Just a ho-hum 102 point outing and 1.36ppp for the Mountaineers. Since that game West Virginia’s defense has given up 1.26ppp and 1.47ppp (!!!!! at home to Baylor !!!!!). Needless to say, those were back to back losses and the first time a Huggins coached team had given up 88 points in back to back games in his career. Obviously WV matches up well with Iowa St because of their lack of interior scoring, but WV will be without one of their better perimeter defenders and third leading scorer Terry Henderson again, who didn’t travel to Ames. Tough to see a Huggins team getting torched for a third straight game, but the Clones should exact some revenge at Hilton tonight.

Baylor @ Texas

Texas returning home after being crushed on the brutal Ames to Lawrence road swing. They get a Baylor team fresh off an obscene offensive road outing, and having won 4 straight to get them squarely back on the bubble. Unfortunately for the Bears, this is a bad matchup because of Texas’ interior defense and Baylor’s inability to stay in front of quick guards, whether in man or zone, and Isaiah Taylor really exploited that in the first meeting. Baylor’s offense is revitalized though with Chery clearly looking like a better player as his turf toe issues have been mitigated.

Butler @ Villanova

Butler took Villanova to OT at Hinkle, but that was on New Year’s Eve. Might as well have been last season. Butler actually doing a better job defending guards of late (unless you’re Bryce Cotton, but who can guard him?), but that’s because they’ve basically stopped doubling bigs to cut off penetration. The result? You guessed it, bigs have gone 30-45 in the past 3 losses after I noticed they made a conscious decision to stop doubling bigs after the Xavier game. It helps to have Kam Woods back, but Chrabascz is lost defensively right now, but they need him offensively.

Michigan @ Purdue

Purdue has looked pretty awful since beating up on IU, and Michigan is coming off a huge win over their rival on Sunday, but no thanks. Michigan getting more penetration it seems to me, and relying a little less on the 3, and that’s thanks to the development of Caris Levert. Beilein also utilized the 1-3-1 vs MSU more than I’ve seen him use it in any other game this year.

Nebraska @ Illinois

Nebraska defensively is second only to Ohio State in the Big Ten, and Illinois is second only to Northwestern in terms of offensive ineptitude in the Big Ten. Going out on a limb and saying we’re not going to see a lot of points tonight in this one. Groce has had a week to prep for this one. Beat Missouri this year with a week to prep, and looked ok offensively vs Iowa at home, but still lost in the other week off instance. Last year he was 3-0, with one of the wins coming against Nebraska, but the other two were over Auburn and Western Carolina.

Charleston @ Drexel

Drexel off the big win at Delaware’s senior night, but looking for some revenge after the Bruiser Flint “flip out” game at Charleston. C of C off a 2OT loss to UNCW on Saturday.

Delaware @ UNC Wilmington

Hens off an emotional loss, and have Threatt and King-Davis coming back. Not sure if Threatt will start, but they come back at a perfect time. Hens look like they’ve peaked and look a little tired, while Towson looks the opposite. All of a sudden, that number one seed is far from a sure thing for the Hens. Peterson is still going with his 10 man rotation, and UNCW has been playing their best basketball.

Hofstra @ William & Mary

William & Mary went 8-25 from 3 vs Hofstra’s zone in the first go round. I expect that to change at home tonight.

Towson @ James Madison

JMU has had a week off to prep for Towson, a team that put up 81 points on 1.19ppp against their zone in the first meeting. Dalembert has also had a week off to rest his ankle and JMU to recover as a whole from OT vs Drexel. A huge game for Towson all of a sudden with the top seed in the CAA on the line.

FAU @ Tulane

FAU is confounding. They’ve lost 3 straight after winning at UTEP, and that includes a head scratcher at home to UNT on Saturday. Bertone and Raffington are essentially the only guys scoring now, but FAU has fared well against zones and sagging defenses, which is what you get from Tulane. They put up 1.17ppp and 1.28ppp vs UAB and ECU respectively. Both teams playing for one of 1,279 byes in the CUSA tournament.

Akron @ Miami OH

Akron getting Harney back from suspension just in time, as season was starting to slip away a bit with back to back losses to upper tier MAC teams. Akron had a 25% TO rate vs the high pressure Miami zone, but won the game because when they did hold on to the ball, they were able to get it inside to Treadwell, who is a mismatch vs any of Miami’s height. A road win here sets up nicely for a stretch run for the Zips, who close out with 3 home games, and should be getting healthier with Kretzer and McAdams due back.

Kent State @ BGSU

Manley hit a buzzer beating 3 to win the game for KSU in the first meeting. BGSU did their thing in that game, focusing solely on getting to the rim and forcing KSU into 3s, they just came up short. The last time BGSU was in a game decided by more than 3 points was Feb 5. Five straight have been decided by one, two, or three points, and they’re 1-4 in those games. Lack of depth tends to keep them from closing out close contests.

Buffalo @ Ohio

Ohio used yet another second half comeback to beat Buffalo in the first meeting, and the Bulls haven’t defeated the Bobcats in their last 7 games now. Ohio will likely be with a limited Stevie Taylor, if he plays at all. The kid is basically playing on a broken leg.

Buffalo had a rough time when Ohio went to a zone in the first meeting, but I expect them to be more prepared for it this time around. McCrea operating out of the high post should be effective, as he’s a pretty effective passer. Does Ohio focus on shutting him down with double teams and making Buffalo beat them from outside, or do they let him “get his” and focus on taking away Buffalo’s remaining options? They went with the latter in the first meeting, and it took a second half comeback and some ice cold shooting down the stretch to pull it out. Huge game in terms of MAC seeding, as both are still fighting for that coveted MAC triple bye, both of which are currently held by the two West leaders.

CMU @ EMU

Nothing much to see here. EMU coming off a loss to their rival in a big game, but CMU will chuck up 3s all night vs EMU’s zone, not make many, and put the Eagles on the line a ton.

WMU @ Ball State

Not sure if Majok Majok will play, but he has been practicing, albeit in a limited capacity. WMU off two big wins over Ohio and EMU, and have a massive game Toledo on Saturday, so some chance they come out sluggish here. BSU did force the Broncos into a 23% TO rate in the first meeting, but the Cardinals were dreadful offensively and WMU was able to pound it inside to Whittington, and that was with Majok playing. WMU’s efficient 2Pt offense is a mismatch vs Ball State’s undersized and potentially undermanned interior.

Toledo @ NIU

Toledo in the same situation as WMU. Just a matter of maintaining focus before a big game with the Broncos for MAC supremacy. Toledo built to bust a zone with penetration. If they maintain that and don’t settle for the 3, they should pop it and/or get to the FT line.

Boise State @ Fresno State

Two of the hottest teams in the MWC right now. Boise off the dramatic victory over UNLV where Rice went full Howard Dean afterwards. All about guard play in this one, but Fresno had issues with Ryan Watkins inside in the first meeting, and BSU scored 56 points in the paint in the UNLV game. Could be a major issue for Fresno. Fresno off back to back altitude games with a short bench too.

Colorado St @ UNLV

The Rams’ MWC road wins (actually the entirety of their road wins) are Air Force and SJSU. UNLV can rebound with the Rams, but the contrasting defensive philosophies are interesting. UNLV doesn’t double bigs, so they pinch in on shooters, while CSU sags off the perimeter and at times intentionally goes under screens in order to try and grab every single defensive rebound. That didn’t work out so well in Moby for the Rebs, but I think things change in Vegas tonight.

Stanford @ Arizona State

Dwight Powell has terrorized Sendek’s ASU teams, as he’s usually able to exploit their lack of movable bigs and athleticism on the wings. ASU is awful when they turn into a jump shooting team and that’s precisely what happened on their altitude trip. The problem is that’s what they’re going to have to do against Stanford’s sagging defense. Sendek was upset with the lack of effort in Utah, and talked of some lineup and rotation changes. I expect better effort, but do the jump shots fall for the Sun Devils, especially Marshall, who has been ice cold of late?

Cal @ Arizona

Arizona does a whole lot of things well, but shooting the ball from outside consistently isn’t one of them. They also don’t have a bench and they’re coming off their altitude trip. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Nick Johnson on Cobbs for a good deal of possessions, but that would mean McConnell ends up on Wallace/Bird/Mathews for some time.

Johnson was dealing with a nagging wrist injury during the first meeting (1-14 and 5 turnovers!), and it appears he’s maybe at least a little better, but the outside shot still isn’t there.

If there’s one thing we know about Monty, he will throw some different zone looks out there and make Arizona beat the Bears from outside. I’m dubious that Kravish and Solomon have the some impact in Tucson as they did in Berkeley, and even if the Cats are missing from outside, they could dominate again on the offensive glass.

Belmont @ SIU Edwardsville

Belmont still playing for the one seed although it doesn’t really matter since the tournament is in Nashville and they already have a berth in the semi-finals. SIU Ed has qualified for their first OVC tourney, but can’t crack a top 4 seed. They play small, spread the court, and try to turn you over. Sounds like Belmont. The one meeting last year was a laugher, but we should see some more points and a lot of 3s tonight.

Sorry no time for MVC (those games are inconsequential in terms of seeding anyway) or SEC.