Archive | November, 2015

11/30 Monday Thoughts and Predictions

30 Nov

It’s going to be difficult to tell if Indiana’s defense looks any better tonight after the Maui disaster, because Alcorn State’s offense is so bad. The Braves lack a PG, so they turn it over at even higher rate than IU (which is hard to believe) and they have one shooter in Reggie Johnson. The interior is actually their strength, which is rare for a SWAC team, as Marquis Vance and DeAndre Davis are their best players. Vance can roam on the perimeter at 6’7 offensively, but is one of the best defensive rebounders in the SWAC. Davis is the team’s best rim protector, and he rebounds his fair share of the Braves’ missed shots, which are plentiful. With Davis and Vance, and sharpshooting Johnson, there are some lengthy Braves that need to be checked on the perimeter, even if the numbers don’t suggest it right now. The offense lacks a ball handler (I’m not sure where Shawn Willett and Juwan Henderson have been the last 3 games. Willett was supposed to help with replacing Luckett’s scoring load and Henderson was a potential PG), and they’re allowing a ton of shots in transition (per hoop-math.com, they’re allowing 35.3% of opponent shots to occur in transition, the third highest rate in the country). Alcorn also has the lowest APL defensively in the country, a result of so many runouts off the defensive glass and turnovers. I guess you could view this as an opportunity for IU to get reestablished after the horrible trip to Hawaii and work on some things in preparation for Duke, as long as no one gets hurt. Interesting side note, the best team in the history of the SWAC was the 1978-79 Alcorn State Braves, who were undefeated in the regular season but not invited to the 32 team NCAA Tournament (before the SWAC had an autobid). They beat Mississippi State in the first round of the NIT, and barely fell to IU in the second round. That Alcorn State was coached by the legendary Davey Whitney, and led by one of the best glass cleaners of all time, Larry Smith. Unfortunately they were overshadowed by another undefeated team led by another Larry…Bird and Indiana State Sycamores…………Illinois State can actually compete athletically with Kentucky at Rupp tonight. The Redbirds are the most athletic team in the MVC, but they have a real issue in the backcourt. Muller’s ideal lineup is long, rangy athletes that he can use in pressure man to man or an active zone, and the Redbirds have a 24.7% def TO rate, 15th highest in the country. The problem is that doesn’t leave Paris Lee with much help in the backcourt on the offensive end, and the passing, ballhandling, and general movement has been poor when ISU isn’t in transition. Getting into a transition game with this year’s version of the Wildcats isn’t going to allow you to stay in the game. You have to force Kentucky to run zone offense (especially if Ulis is out), but if ISU can’t reel in the turnovers and keep UK from running of the defensive glass (Redbirds have struggled early there this year, and they might not have McIntosh) then that’s not going to happen. Illinois State’s defense has been solid in creating long defensive possessions that result in a turnover, and that’s *exactly* what they need a lot of tonight in order to stay competitive and have a chance to win this game…………..Rutgers is still just awful on the glass, and that’s not good when you’re playing Wake Forest, a team that thrives on dominating the glass on both ends. The defensive scheme Rutgers runs into tonight is going to limit a penetration based offense, and funnel them either into the teeth of the defense or force them into taking jump shots that eventually lead into quick runouts for the Deacs. Wake is also at full strength (besides CMM of course) with Hudson and Watson back, while Rutgers has two talented FR, Laurent and Sanders, questionable tonight. This is Wake’s first game after the highly successful Maui trip, so you would expect some hangover, which is realistically the only way Rutgers stays in this game………An inability to defend without fouling and a total lack of height in the frontcourt is going to make it tough for Western Carolina to stay with South Carolina tonight, and they’re not going to be able to score in transition consistently against the Gamecocks either. They will at least have a shooters chance, as Frank Martin’s defensive scheme goads you into jump shots, and they have some gunners with Eli Pughsley joining a recently reinstated Rhett Harrelson and Mike Brown this year. The Catamounts haven’t shot it well early, but those three can get hot………..Charleston is going to force you to score in the half court, and I that allows them to stay with LSU tonight. Ben Simmons is obviously a matchup nightmare, and Charleston doesn’t really have anyone who can guard him without fouling, especially if he’s being more physical in terms of penetration and backing him man down. The strength of Charleston’s defense is taking away jump shooters and the three point line, but they’ll have issues against any interior size. Bourne is a savvy vet inside, Gilmore has a lot of athleticism, but that’s about it, as Brantley is still figuring things out early, and Harris can’t stay on the court. The thing is they have a lot of size and tough on ball defense with Barry, Johnson, Hulsey, and even the talented FR Pointer (who has a bigger early role than expected because of some big injuries to Chealey and Riller). If Bourne and Gilmore (and Barry and Johnson when Grant goes small) can find a modicum of success in limiting Simmons, the Cougars can possibly win this game, as they’re not going to let LSU get in transition consistently and the backcourt can defend Blakeney, Sampson, and Quarterman………….Chattanooga’s Billy Donovan influenced defense can be beat outside by sharpshooters and quick ball movement. Those aren’t UL Monroe’s strengths, as no team has shot worse from behind the arc early in the season, and few teams have attempted less threes than the Warhawks.  The ball movement for ULM has also suffered, as they Coppola has had to play more off the ball to make up for a lack of scoring from the guards. When 6’10 Majok Deng is your only shooter and you lack an attacking wing like Ongwae, you’re going to struggle offensively. The FR Munnings is going to eventually develop, but it’s still early. That being said, ULM’s defense is going to be a strength again. Richard has them switching between man and zone seamlessly, and that’s aided by the mobile height of Deng and Samuel. The Mocs likely don’t have the freshest of legs for their pressure heavy style after a quick turnaround from a tournament in Florida. ULM’s offense doesn’t match up well at all with the Mocs’ defense, but they’re catching them at a good time…………I was fairly impressed with what I saw out of SIUE vs Butler. They have steady ball handlers with Carr, Anderson, and Eslik, and they’re going to work their offense into Fiorentinos, Henry, and Makanjuola at every opportunity. That’s the precise attack that’s going to have success against a ball pressure heavy Green Bay that can’t keep bigs Lowe and Kanter on the floor, and Darner has all world versatile defender Fouse being used more up the floor in the press/trap schemes. Not sure of SIUE’s student schedule, but when they’re in town, the Cougars have one of the most underrated HCAs in the country……….Fresno State has the backcourt to be able to weather Altman’s trapping and keep the Ducks relatively out of transition, which is going to give them a chance, but Oregon’s versatility out of the 3/4/5 is going to be a big challenge for Jones, Watson, Edo, and Russo. With Lewis back, Fresno State has more depth than Oregon at the moment, and Lionel Ellison off the bench is one of the most underrated lock down on ball defenders in the country, and Fresno has the experience, depth, and athletes to keep this one close, but the versatility Altman can bring at the 3 and particularly the 4 and 5 on both ends with Brooks, Cook, Benjamin, and Boucher is going to win the game for Oregon………..Northern Iowa’s defense is going to turn you into a jump shooting team, which isn’t good for North Texas, whose strength offensively lies with Combs, Holston, and the big FR Brice inside (more so if they can get Katenda’s career on track after the horrific eye injury). J-Mychal Reese has struggled with turnovers early in his UNT career, despite having as much talent as anyone in the CUSA. The Mean Green are coming off a disaster of a tournament as the host school, losing all 3 to a field that included Samford, Idaho, and Troy. UNI isn’t going to “force” you into a ton of turnovers, but the J-Mychal/Ja’Michael duo hasn’t been able to get the ball up floor even against non pressure, and it didn’t help that they had to play three teams who can bring a lot of ball pressure in that tournament. UNI might be looking ahead to a big road trip on deck, but UNT is going to have to hit jump shots to win, and with DeAndre Harris off the team, Deckie Johnson is the only player on the roster who can consistently knock down anything on the perimeter, and UNI isn’t going to help you out by fouling. Defensively I don’t know what to expect right now. Last year Benford played a few different zones, but they’ve spent so much time in transition defense that I haven’t had a good read on what they’re trying to accomplish, as teams have been going to the rim off turnovers or they’re getting fouled by the Mean Green, but preseason Benford said he wanted to be more aggressive on the perimeter, and let some of the new height work as erasers to allow some gambling from the guards defensively. We’ll see…………….If you keep Minnesota out of transition and limit possessions, you’re going to have a chance, and that’s exactly what Clemson does with an APL offensively in the 280s and an offensive turnover rate of 14.1% (8th lowest). With King and Buggs, Minnesota at least has two big shooters who can potentially stretch out Clemson’s compact halfcourt defense that is basically denying everything at the rim with a healthy Nnoko and a versatile Blossomgame, and doing it while fouling at even lower rate than last year. The problem is that King and Buggs are both a big trade off in defense for their offense.

Predictions (280-226-9):
Alcorn State +35.5
Western Carolina +18
Charleston +5.5
Wake Forest -5.5
Illinois State +20
SIUE +5
UL Monroe +2.5
Fresno State +11
North Texas +20
Clemson +2

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11/29 Sunday Thoughts and Predictions

29 Nov

Some quick thoughts….somehow Northern Colorado is playing worse defense than last year, which is hard to do. Cam Michael unfortunately has had a recurrence of his concussion issues, and if he’s out for an extended amount of time, that would be a devastating blow for the Bears…..Brown’s shooters are going to have a chance against SMU’s zone (although Hobbie is the only consistent threat), but the issue is Bruno’s defense. SMU doesn’t have a ton of size, but Spieth at the 4 for Brown is a major liability. SMU severely shorthanded tonight though, playing without Nic Moore and Ben Moore……..You have to be able to expose Dayton’s slow rotations defensively, and I’m not sure Xavier can do that. Reynolds and Farr have struggled to score consistently inside vs lesser competition, and Dayton’s going to be able to extend their defense more than usual. Not sure who can guard Scoochie for XU…….Boise State gets some revenge with Zeus out for Arizona and getting the Wildcats on a neutral(ish) floor. Arizona’s lack of offense is a bigger concern than Boise State’s lack of defense……..Moving Vincent on ball a stroke of genius by Bob Williams, but ASU is going to own glass and get to FT line a ton. UCSB a better shooting team than what they’ve shown so far though……..Delaware’s defense isn’t good enough at the moment to compete with Temple, and they’re down a shooter in a Pinkard. Temple’s defense is adept at taking away 3 and stout inside…….Craig Smith is one of the most underrated coaches in the country, but Jim Hayford has rebuilt his defense to take away the three point line, and that’s going to be a problem for a guard oriented USD team……Rice actually matches up well against UT Arlington’s ball line defense, but the heavy personnel losses are still a major concern…….Pepperdine looked gassed at end of Florida tournament, now a fairly quick turnaround to face a Montana team that can exploit them inside if Breunig stays on the court…….UCLA would be wise to stick with the 3-2 vs a CSUN team that relies heavily on penetration……Kris Dunn vs Denzel Valentine? Matchup of the year and we’re not even out of November yet. Interested to see what happens to MSU offense when Valentine isn’t playing like super man, but quick, screen heavy MSU offense will negate PC size. Who guards Dunn though? Nairn is too small and Forbes just isn’t good enough defensively. PC has a very short bench, and I’m worried about their legs tonight…….Free throws are going to be the difference in Mercer/WMU. Both are going to be in a zone for the majority of the game, but Mercer zone much better at limiting penetration, which is going to hinder a Wilder off the dribble offense……out of time…

PREDICTIONS (268-217-9):

USC -5
USU +18
Jackson State +12.5
Rider +11.5
Oklahoma -8.5
Evansville +3
Brown +23
Colorado -25
Dayton +2.5
Boise St +6
UCSB +8
Temple -12
EWU -3
Rice +3.5
Montana +8.5
Notre Dame -10.5
Mercer -2
UCLA -18.5
Santa Clara +6
Sacramento St -4
Michigan State -8

11/28 Saturday Thoughts and Predictions

28 Nov

Back to analysis tomorrow….

Predictions (245-191-8):Alabama State -3.5, Georgetown -24, Nebraska +2 from twitter

UCF +2.5
ORU -6.5
Buffalo -1
Chattanooga -12.5
Ole Miss -9
Ball State +9.5
Cincy -5
UNI -10
Niagara -4
LMU -1.5
Drake -9.5
Morehead St -18.5
UNCW +1.5
Denver -7
Wright State +3.5
ODU +8
Little Rock +10.5
St. Bonaventure -1.5
Texas Tech -6.5
Pitt -13
UAB -2.5
Fordham -8.5
SIUE +28
SIU -3
SJSU +1.5
Sacramento St -6.5
UNCG +2.5
Illinois +8.5
Georgia +3
Maryland -21
Montana State +9
EIU +7.5
Samford PK
WIU +12
SLU +15
UL Monroe +7
UTEP +4
Washington St -10.5
BYU -6
Nevada -1.5
UNC Asheville +5
Pacific -3
Northern Illinois -2
Toledo -3

11/27 Friday Predictions

27 Nov

Traveling and no time for breakdowns today, but predictions (222-177-6) are….

Wichita State -9.5
Chattanooga -9.5
UConn +3.5
Stanford +1
Baylor -23.5
Xavier -3
Jacksonville St -5
Syracuse +6
Villanova -10.5
UC Irvine -5.5
Minnesota -10
Charleston -6
UTEP -1
SJSU +3.5
Northeastern +17
Fairfield +6.5
South Florida +22
Boise State +10
Mercer -11.5
Drexel -3.5
FGCU +20
Cincy -14
Georgia State -10.5
Notre Dame PK
Michigan -2.5
Virginia Tech +14
JMU -3
Ohio State -1
UC Riverside -1
Richmond +6
Colorado State -6
Auburn -15
LBSU +8
Evansville -11
George Washington -5.5
Idaho State +27
Loyola Chicago PK
Dayton -7.5
Charlotte +13
UAB -2
San Diego Stsate +2.5
Providence +5.5
UNC Asheville +5

11/26 Thursday Thoughts and Predictions

26 Nov

Super quick thoughts/predictions (215-164-6) as I type this up on my phone while traveling…..Great rivalry renewed in the Bahamas, and getting Syracuse’s zone on short notice isn’t fun, but UConn is a team of zone busters this year, and Ollie can throw Miller on Gbinije and disrupt the three point reliant Syracuse offense, and the Orange aren’t going to be able to score at the rim against UConn (UConn -4.5)

Without a true post presence, the already outstanding UC Irvine defense can extend out on the perimeter even further in the 3-2 against a very good shooting Boise team. Strong Eater contingent in Fullerton? (UC Irvine +1.5)

Villanova defends without fouling, dominates the perimeter and can avoid Humphrey inside. Not sure how Stanford scores consistently without getting to FT line and not sure how they defend Villanova backcourt (Villanova -17)

Richmond is capable of handling the press well enough to compete vs West Virginia, but can they keep them off the glass well enough to actually pull off a win? (Richmond +7.5)

Despite being shorthanded in the frontcourt, Michigan State has been so solid defensively inside and out (and they’ll work Clark back into the rotation today). Not sure I’ve seen enough versatility out of BC yet to suggest they can hang with the Spartans on the offensive end. Defensively though, the Eagles might be able to hang around. We’ll see how “revitalized” Clifford is, and Christian’s best teams take away the three point line defensively, while pressuring the ball with a shot blocker to protect. Diallo is going to be that guy eventually, but he’s still really raw. Good test for the Eagles to see exactly where they’re at right now in the rebuild (BC +15)

The Irish aren’t going to be fazed by Monmouth’s ball pressure, but King Rice has flipped the script a bit defensively this year, going away from the high pressure zone in favor of pressing up on the three point line. This has to be a Zach Auguste game, otherwise a very skilled and talented Monmouth team is going to have a chance at the upset, especially if Hornbeak, Seaborn, and stretch shooter Stewart find their stroke early. The Hawks purposefully arrived earlier than other teams to get familiar with HP Field House (Monmouth +9)

Texas isn’t doing anything terribly necessarily, but they’re not doing anything consistently either. The press is still hit or miss. It wasn’t effective last night vs Texas A&M, and now they’re going back to back against a team that’s already seen it this season. That being said, I trust Shaka more in an in season rematch, especially against such a young Washington team (Texas -3)

FR Von Julien was outstanding against App St, and looks ready to assume the PG mantle in Conroy’s offense, but Mercer is going to force you into being a jump shooting team, and that’s when Tulane gets into trouble offensively, but I think the offense received a significant upgrade with the keys being turned over to Julien (Tulane +5)

Evansville forcing you to play team defense against their motion offense, and Providence has looked like 4 guys watching Kris Dunn too often. The constant ball movement helps mitigate Dunn’s defensive prowess (Evansville +2)

This is a matchup for Iowa where Uthoff at the 4 isn’t going to hurt them, and will actually be the key to a nice Hawkeye win (Iowa -1.5)

MTSU is shorthanded and Alaska Anchorage is missing two of their best players from last year, but I’ll go with the host for the hell of it (AK Anchorage +8.5)

Charlotte’s offense is too dependent on iso plays and playing a lot of possessions. That’s going to be difficult against a Michigan team built to keep you away from the rim and limit possessions (Michigan -13.5)

Santa Clara is going to take the air out of the ball and then jack up a shot with Brownridge and zone Arizona all night. This one is going to be ugly, but not sure there’s enough possessions for Arizona to win in a blow out (Santa Clara +23.5)

UNC Asheville desperately needs FR Trae Bryant to assume PG duties sooner rather than later. Turnovers have been a major issue, as McDevitt has tried out a “bigger lineup” with Smith and Weeks on the ball. It’s just not working because there’s a lack of height inside. Drexel has already  been ravaged by injuries (surprise), but this is a good matchup for the Dragons healthy frontcourt, at the moment (Drexel -1.5)

SDSU’s defense will limit the Cal guard penetration, and force you to beat them from outside, which is going to be the MO for any defense facing Cal this year, keep Wallace and Mathews out of the lane, and double Rabb and force him to pass out of harassing defense. The Aztecs can certainly throw waves of length at Rabb, but the issue is going to be Jaylen Brown, who I think is the best player in the country and could win this game singlehandedly because of his versatility, and Cal has a big advantage in the backcourt (Cal -4.5)

From twitter earlier: Alabama +10.5, Texas A&M +3, ECU +4.5, Georgia Tech -6, Wichita State -1.5

 

 

 

 

11/25 Wednesday Thoughts and Predictions

25 Nov

One thing that jumped out at me while watching pieces of Gonzaga/Mount St. Mary’s is that the Bulldogs don’t really have a secondary ball handler behind Perkins, and they looked awfully wobbly against MSM’s pressure. Romar has stated that he wants to get back to the pressure man to man defense employed earlier in his tenure, especially with all the length and athleticism on his roster. The Huskies had been playing with pack line principles that last few years (that’s per Romar, who must have a very loose interpretation of pack line defense), but with the mobile length of the talented FR class with guys like Murray, Thybulle, Green, and even Chriss and Dickerson, Romar should be getting back to a lot more disruption in the backcourt that leads to the fast paced game he prefers, especially with Andrews and Dorsey in the backcourt as well. The question for Washington is if the young frontcourt of Chriss, Dickerson, Duruisseau, and Dime can bang with Sabonis and Karno, and get out on Wiltjer. I think Chriss, who I said before the said started would play himself into a lottery pick, can guard Wiltjer in theory, but on the court he might be a little too active, and I have a feeling Wiltjer is going to get him in early foul trouble and change the complexion of this game. I’m also concerned about the Huskies in the halfcourt offensively. All three games thus far have been 80+ possession affairs. Ideally Romar wants to use Chriss and Dickerson in the high post, but he hasn’t really had to rely on that yet. If Gonzaga’s shaky ball handling holds up, Washington is going to be forced into half court execution, and that’s a plus for the Zags. I think there’s no question that Washington can compete today, simply based on athleticism and length alone, but Gonzaga is eventually going to wear them down inside, and exploit the lack of experience when the game slows down………..Central Michigan looked like a team that’s ready to go home in their blowout loss vs Western Kentucky, while Milwaukee is off back to back losses where poor late game execution cost them dearly. Another game in this tournament where both teams are looking to work the perimeter with quick ball movement and find an open shooter, but both have no legs, as Milwaukee is off OT and CMU is playing without the foundation of the offense, Chris Fowler. I guess I’ll lean with the team that has their most important players healthy, even if dog tired (8th game in 13 days for the Panthers. Yikes)…………Didn’t see a minute of HBU/SDSU, but no idea why Odunsi only played 7 minutes for Houston Baptist. If he’s out (2nd in FT rate nationally last year) against a harassing Rider backcourt, that’s troublesome. You have to zone Rider nonstop at this point, as Sadler, Taylor, and Okereafor are a woeful 8-44 from 3, and playing on back to back days after facing Cleveland State’s full court press………..It’s early and it’s obviously a small sample size, but I haven’t seen a Syracuse team jack up the 3 at this rate since the McNamara/Devendorf/Nichols 2005-06 season. The Tylers inside aren’t providing much, and the offense is forced into a bunch of threes. That’s some good news for a Charlotte defense that has struggled to stop anyone with height and has been awful closing off dribble penetration. The fact that the Orange have to rely on the perimeter to score and in an unfamiliar setting should make this one ugly, as the Cuse zone is already clicking at a high level, and thus Charlotte is going to struggle to score, especially because they’re so small 1-3 in the backcourt. Syracuse has a very short bench, and with three games in three days, I would expect them to really being playing at a snail’s pace, and limiting minutes for guys like Coleman. This one is likely going to be hard to watch………Another third game in three days situation between Duquesne and Western Kentucky. WKU barely broke a sweat against CMU, while Duquesne scored a nice win in OT over Milwaukee. WKU’s defense allows for a lot of open looks from outside, and we know the Dukes have some lethal shooters, but do they have the legs? I think you’ll see FR Marlon Hunter have a big game for WKU in this situation where depth is a concern. He’s arguably the most talented player on the court and brings instant offense. If stamina is an issue for WKU and he has to play 20+ minutes, he might score 20+ points, but there are very real concerns about the WKU backcourt limiting Colter penetration (which will lead to the inevitable Lawson fouls), and getting out on Mason. I expect something similar to Duquesne/Milwaukee in this one……………Dre Wills has a chance to play in his first game for Vermont this year, and the Catamounts really need him against the aggressive Florida defense, as Bell-Haynes has struggled without a secondary ball handler (plus it can move Duncan back off the ball too, where he’s so lethal), and Wills is one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. Plus Becker just needs bodies at this point with Steidl banged up and all the travel. It’s a bad matchup on paper for UVM, but Becker’s defensive scheme can turn Florida into a jump shooting team (but that’s fairly contingent on a healthy Wills), and that will give them a chance, but they have to be able to get the ball up the court on the other end…………Callandret and Sarbaugh can’t catch a a break in Denton, as all three teams they play in the tournament bring a ton of ball pressure. They’re going to struggle against Samford’s press, especially with their third game in three days, and an afternoon tip after a night game. The flip side is that those two have been great defensively for Idaho, something they sorely lacked last year. Verlin has gone away from the atrocious pack line defense he tried out vs CSUB, and is utilizing his length and athleticism more in the backcourt with a pressure man to man. Samford is going to mightily offensively when they can’t get in transition or get to the free throw line. Fortunately for them, Idaho allows both of those things. This one comes down to who turns it over less vs ball pressure, and who hits more FTs, as both teams are going to get there a ton. Idaho is 5th if FT rate early, and Samford is 335th in foul rate. I’ll say the Vandals get enough at the FT line line to negate the turnovers……….South Dakota State’s offense is operating at an exceptionally high level, and Nagy’s defensive ball pressure is helping negate the lack of heigh inside. It’s amazing what they’ve done on what has to be tired legs, and they’ll be tested by Cleveland State’s 40 minutes of full court pressure. The Vikings may have a boost with the return of PG Myles Hamilton, who made the trip to Cancun, dressed, and warmed up, but didn’t play yesterday. If the Vikings can’t turn SDSU over, they’re not going to score, and they’re going to get carved up on the back end.

PREDICTIONS (197-147-5):
Milwaukee -2
Washington +9.5
Rider -11.5
Duquesne -2
Syracuse -14
Vermont +14
Idaho PK
South Dakota St -11

Some thoughts on the early evening games….

Ron Hunter tends to schedule some non D1 games early, then throw his team right into the fire vs a Power 5, and this year is no exception, as they’ll head to Ole Miss for their first “real” game of the season. It figures to be a tough matchup for the Panthers, as Ole Miss is already game tested, and will throw two different zones at GSU, a team that struggled mightily with zone offense last year, and they’re fitting in some new pieces this year (Hunter once again restocked with high end transfers like Hollowell and Williams). GSU will once roll out the super high pressure zone led by spidery Kevin Ware, but Ole Miss has steady ball handlers led by Moody. GSU’s talent level is still incredibly high this year, but this is a tough first D1 matchup on paper. Hollowell and Session using their size advantage on the perimeter is key for GSU tonight………Tough game for High Point. They’re so reliant on getting production from John Brown at the rim, but they’re going to run into a stout Georgia interior defense that can also go zone effectively, and High Point’s only shooter is Cugini. If Georgia contest Cugini early and frustrates Brown, High Point is going to have issues scoring. Scott Cherry uses a lot of zone to protect Brown from fouls, but they can’t lose Gaines behind the arc. He’s been lethal early. I doubt Georgia continues to shoot the ball from 3 at the level they have been, and the zone is going to limit FTs from a UGA team that has the highest FT rate in the country right now (I know, it’s super early and they’ve played 2 games, but the Dawgs are a very good penetrate and kick team)……..Not much more to be said about IU’s defense. They’re awful in almost every regard. They can’t defend a pick and roll and everyone can be taken off the dribble. Hopefully the benching of Williams and Blackmon inspires a turnaround on the defensive effort, but regardless, this is a tough matchup on paper for the Hoosiers. UNLV never doubles the post, believing that Okonoboh and Zimmerman can defend any big one on one, and I believe they can vs Bryant. This allows the Rebels to really pinch in on the three point line and contest every shot. That’s going to be a problem for IU all night. This game is going to have to be about Ferrell getting into the lane and demanding UNLV collapse on penetration to open up the three point line, because it’s not going to happen by feeding the post like it did vs St. John’s……….North Texas has had a disastrous start to their season, and needs to beat Troy to salvage a win in their own tournament. The Mean Green have had late leads in both losses, but the excessively high turnover rate has done them in both nights. Reese has a ton of talent, but his ability to handle pressure from both Idaho and Samford has been poor, and Troy is another team that’s going to challenge his ball handling with Peace and Miller harassing him all night. Troy has no depth, no height, and no offense if they’re not getting in transition. With their lack of depth, you worry about the effectiveness of the zone press with three games in three days. If UNT can get the ball up the floor, they have to quickly get it inside to Combs before the zone gets set, because he has a massive advantage at the rim……….The younger pieces of Joe Scott’s offense have had a week of practice and prep for an Idaho State zone that should allow them to get what they want from outside. Bill Evans’ ISU team is shooting a TON of threes this year, and trying to play a lot faster. Their inability to rebound defensively won’t be an issue vs Denver, who doesn’t contest on the glass off missed shots in favor of getting back defensively, but even Joe Scott might challenge a team whose best rebounder might be 5’9 PG Ethan Telfair. Denver has faced a few three point chuckers already this season, and Scott’s defense generally takes away the three point line………Quick turnaround off tough losses late in the game for both TCU and Illinois State. Have to think Muller dusts off the zone against TCU, but the Frogs are going to get to the FT line a ton and own the offensive glass, which gets exacerbated if Illinois State does have to go zone to make TCU a jump shooting team. The difference for TCU this year against a zone is they have a big who can play in the high post in Brodziansky……….Pepperdine’s ability to chase shooters off the three point line as well as any team in the country will limit Drake, a team dependent on their perimeter shooting. Drake doesn’t have the athleticism on the ball that Pepperdine struggled with against Murray State…..

PREDICTIONS:
Ole Miss -5.5
Georgia -9
UNLV +8
North Texas -4.5
Denver -12
TCU +2.5
Pepperdine -10

No time to breakdown the evening slate, so quick predictions…..

Yale +14.5 (Sears inside and Mason penetration enough to keep this one relatively close)

The Citadel +9 (I like Tookie Brown, but it’s a young Georgia Southern backcourt without an interior presence vs #DuggieBall. All about who can handle whose pressure better, as GSU uses a harassing zone press)

George Mason -2.5 (Something tells me the Jaspers gut one out in Draddy despite being severely shorthanded. GMU looked much improved in Charleston, but could be just as tired. That said, without Stores, I can’t trust Manhattan at all)

Texas +4 (A&M has Jones eligible to add to their embarrassment of riches. The Aggies can dominate you in transition and on the offensive glass. Two glaring weaknesses for Texas if they don’t turn you over. That being said, I think Texas comes out fired up for this one. They’ve had a weird schedule, but have had some time to prep for the Bahamas, and once again, turnovers look to be an issue for the Aggies. This is another prediction that could look foolish at the end of the night)

LaSalle -4.5 (LaSalle’s defense built to take away the three point line, which is what Penn’s offense is based around)

NDSU -6 (Great game between two high end midmajors. NDSU has Kading back to help inside against Breunig, and that’s huge since they’ve been getting beat up inside without him. No Dunn hurts against Paul Miller, who looks like he’s going to be able to shoulder the Alexander scoring load)

UCSB +2 (Bob Williams is moving Vincent on the ball, which is a good change as Childress was holding the offense back. 3-2 zone is going to limit Watson penetration

Ok truly out of time, the rest….
Oregon -21
Pitt -24
UCLA -5
PV A&M +29.5
Maryland -6.5
Weber St +2
Omaha -5
CSUN +6
Colorado -15
UMass +4.5
UConn -4.5
Portland St +10
Vandy +2.5
Toledo -14
Clemson -12.5
Loyola Chicago -10

11/24 Tuesday Evening Thoughts and Predictions

24 Nov

NC State’s vaunted interior was simply outworked by the smaller Arizona State frontline led by Savon Goodman. A bounce back game from them is vital, because if you don’t turn Simmons and LSU into a jump shooting team, you’re going to struggle to stop them from scoring. I’m sure Quarterman, Gray, and Patterson would like to get some revenge after last year’s buzzer beating loss to NC State in the NCAA Tournament……..TCU and Rhode Island likely turns into a FT shooting contest, as these two were 13th and 7th in FT rate respectively, and they’re both already on the same pace this year. Although TCU has vastly improved in a small sample size this year, both were remarkably bad from the FT line when they got there. Both teams have been devastated by injuries early. Both defenses are similar in that they can take away the three point line, but also play stout 2PT% defense. Whoever hits their FTs at a higher rate is going to win………Radford’s trio of SRs in the backcourt is going to keep them in this game vs Penn State, but PSU has a massive size advantage inside that they have to exploit, as even Prairie View A&M’s interior of York and Williams gave Radford major issues………Verlin moved Callandret off the entirely vs UNT last night, and Sarbaugh did a better job of handling the UNT zone press than I thought he would. It helped that UNT couldn’t get the ball down court (Reese 9 TOs), but Idaho also won with nothing but fouls from their big, Mkrtychyan. The Vandals will face another zone press from Troy, but I’m worried about the legs of the Trojans. They have no depth, are a little banged up, and rely on Peace, Ford, and Hollimon pressuring the ball. Troy doesn’t have any size, and this is a good game for Mkrtychyan to gain some confidence coming back from his injury and shaking off the rust. Egbert has been something of revelation early for the Vandals inside as well, but it’s all about sustaining the ball pressure from a likely tired Troy team………Murray State has a ton of athleticism, but they’re reliant on rebounding out of the backcourt and scoring in transition, and doing the latter consistently against Pepperdine could be an issue. The Waves have two ball handlers against pressure, and they’re one of the best defenses in the country at chasing you off the three point line, but it’s probably just as well for Murray State if they can’t shoot the 3 today. I’m worried about Peppedine’s offense, as the Racers have lengthy solid defenders with Langston, Croaker, and McGhee to hinder Davis and Murray………Army can fire away from 3 with Wilson and Plomb off Dylan Cox penetration, but Rick Barnes’ teams rarely help on penetration, and stay true to shooters on the perimeter. Hubbs and Moore may be undersized, but Army’s interior defense is nil. Army’s weakness can be exploited there, while Tennessee’s likely can’t…….Probably a tough matchup for Marshall’s 4 out offense, as Morehead State is going to physically bump you off the three point line and extend guard pressure for nearly 40 minutes…….Canisius gets Crumpton back on the wing tonight, adding to their length advantage in the backcourt. Schmidt has reverted back to using a lot pack line principles defensively with this guard heavy group, but I think Canisius’ zone press is the defense to watch here. If the Griffs can turn St. Bonaventure over at a fairly frequent rate, that should be the difference, as both teams are going to give up a fair amount of open looks from outside otherwise, and neither have an advantage in the interior……..Fourth game in five days for a Miami OH team that relies heavily on pressing and trapping and scoring in transition. Cooper’s squad has a little more depth than last year though, and more disruptive length on the perimeter with Harouna and Wade. IPFW can shoot, and they can handle pressure, but they’re small in the backcourt. IPFW can’t defend inside without fouling. The disparity in their foul rate last year to this year is alarming (although it’s very early), and it’s because they can’t stay between bigger wings and back to the basket posts without hacking them. That won’t really be an issue against a 4 guard Miami team. If IPFW can handle the press, they’ll get what they want from outside……..Wofford is a perimeter oriented group this year, and they’ve been firing away from 3 without a creator like Cochran or an interior presence like Skinner. That being said, we know Columbia loves to fire away from 3, but this is a game where Kyle Smith has to take advantage of Luke Petrasek’s new found offensive game. He’s in a great shape, and looks like a completely different offensive presence early. His defense is a work in progress still, but Smith doesn’t need to trade it off with Wofford incapable of scoring inside. Defensively, teams have been hitting the three at a high rate (mainly thanks to Northwestern’s shooting display), but perimeter defense was a strength for the Lions last year……..Oakland wants to get you into a run and chuck game, and that can backfire when you run into a team with perimeter skill and rebounding prowess like Colorado State. SIU is not that team, but Beane will happily oblige. Oakland is the far superior team in terms of talent, but you have to be a little nervous about a road game on a fairly quick turnaround from a high altitude game, especially when you play at the speed Oakland wants to play. That being said, SIU is going to have to hit jumpshots. Not sure anyone on the roster can do that besides Beane (maybe Smithpeters?), and Dorsey-Walker can pop out on him………Wake Forest has a similar situation to last night in facing a four out team that can burn them from outside, but the Deacs have mobile height with Mitoglou to get out on Kornet, and Thomas is going to test Jones with his tenacity on the glass…….Akron is potentially extremely short handed (they were already VERY shorthanded) against a Green Bay team that’s going to bring a lot of ball pressure. Tough spot for the Zips going from Fayetteville to Philly, and then to Green Bay with a banged up squad in key areas……..Louisiana Tech is back at full strength with Luckett, Boykins, and White all back, giving them even more length and scoring on the perimeter, and a legit 7 footer on the back end. That gives a defense that’s going to press and switch up zones (3-2 and 1-2-2) an absurd amount of length, and Ohio State struggled with UTA’s ball line defense in the loss. You’d like to think the Buckeyes bounce back from that loss, but LA Tech isn’t exactly the ideal opponent for that situation when you’re still trying to figure out rotations, and it was clear Matta only trusted 5 guys when it mattered against UTA, as the bench shrunk to nothing……..Rough D1 debut for UNT and Reese last night, as the Mean Green turned the ball over at a 32% rate and he accounted for 9 of them. With that said, UNT was still in a position to win the game, up 4 with 2 minutes left. They won’t have much time to lick their turnover wounds though, as they have a heavy ball pressure team in Samford tonight. UNT has a massive advantage inside with Combs and Brice if Reese and Brown and can feed them consistently and handle the Samford ball pressure……..I’d love to see this BU team at full strength against Kentucky. They played tough for 30 minutes in Rupp last year and have a PG this year with Foreman. Jones played almost strictly zone last year, but has been more man to man this year from what I’ve seen. That being said, he probably has to go back to a lot of zone tonight without Hankerson and Fanning in order to at least try to compete athletically………Interested to see how Rahe attacks Abrahamson defensively. Bolomboy as the size/athleticism combo to get out on the perimeter, but you ideally want him around the rim of course because of his shot blocking/rebounding. Abrahamson can’t guard him on the other end, and Weber has to be dedicated to pounding the ball inside to him and Braxton instead of chucking threes. Weber is much better offensively when Cannon is on the ball instead of Senglin. Senglin gets a little chuck happy when he thinks he has to shoulder the offensive facilitation. Key guy is Kyndahl Hill. He has to be able to check Abrahamson early so Bolomboy doesn’t have to…….I think CSUF is learning that the”you can only play with one ball” axiom always holds true, as Ro Johnson appears to be an unhappy camper in a crowded backcourt. They’ll head to the altitude of Cedar City tonight, and Taylor has been using a lot of 1-3-1 and sort of sagging off the perimeter when he’s not. That’s not recommended against a sharpshooting SUU team lead by McGee and Hess (hopefully able to go with a turned ankle, the Tbirds struggled without him on court vs UTSA). CSUF doesn’t really have the frontcourt to be able to exploit SUU on the glass or in the paint. If the assassin Hess is good to go, SUU should get their first win…….Oregon State has been outstanding at home under Tinkle, but Valpo is so hard to defend because of the length from rim to perimeter. Can’t zone them, and hard to match up in man. Should be a great game…….Katz is really aggressive with his guard pressure and Sacramento St is so disruptive defensively in the backcourt, and that’s been an achilles heel for UC Davis, even last year with Hawkins. However, with Berry, Fox, and Monson, have been FAR more interior based. Mason Stuteville got some confidence vs Holy Names. If he can stretch out the floor and open things up for Graves and Demps, the Hornets should be able to capitalize on their backcourt advantage.

PREDICTIONS (180-132-5)
from twitter: Milwaukee, Rider, IU, CMU (woof), USA, SDSU

Belmont -14.5
LSU PK
Radford +9
Idaho +1.5
URI -7.5
Murray State +4
Tennessee -8.5
Canisius -2
Morehead St -7
IPFW +3
Columbia -8
Northwestern -7.5
Wake Forest +11
Arizona State -4
Oakland +1.5
Green Bay +4.5
LA Tech +9
UNT -4.5
Maryland -12.5
Weber State -5
Boston U +24.5
SUU -2.5
Valpo PK
UNC -10.5
Kansas -9
Sacramento St -2.5