11/21 Saturday Evening Thoughts and Predictions

21 Nov

Have some obligations tonight so I’m going to go rapid fire for the rest of the games….

Florida State is another team that’s going to dominate DePaul on the glass and force them into jump shots they don’t want to take…..VMI under Dan Earl is going to zone everyone, and Virginia Tech is as good of a candidate to zone as any team in the country right now. Conversely, it’s probably a bad idea for Buzz to zone VMI, who is loaded with guys used to volume shooting under Duggie……..Matheny’s offense can generally operate efficiently against a zone, but can Elon operate against the length of the vaunted Syracuse 2-3? Key is if Elon’s pressure can mitigate the massive size advantage of Syracuse and allow some easy buckets. Hard to get in transition against the Orange, but Cooney and co haven’t exactly been tight with the ball early……No idea what to expect from UNCG without Saddler, but to be frank, I didn’t know what to expect when they had Saddler. It was all or nothing with him, and at the very least, the offense becomes a little more efficient but less explosive without him. The offense probably has to filter through White and Locke, but that’s going to be tough against a much bigger UCF team. You have to be a little concerned about UCF mentally after two straight heartbreaking losses against what were thought to be better teams…….Providence has major revenge in mind against Brown tonight after last year’s loss to Bruno…….Big advantage inside for Kent State over Marist in terms of height and skill, but that was true for the SIU game too. Marist is going to throw out a 1-3-1 defensively and try to negate some of that height, but I expect Senderoff’s team to get back to disrupting and overplaying the three point line against Maker’s modified Princeton, perimeter oriented attack…….UNCW and WMU could turn into a track meet. Hawkins keeps saying he wants to press, and I think he’s going to find out quickly zoning UNCW could be an issue. They haven’t shot it well yet, but they’re loaded with length and versatility at the wings. We know that Keatts is going to press, press, and press, especially with that versatile athleticism he has at his disposal, and especially with some frontcourt issues at the moment…….NKU was manhandled by WV’s press, and while Morehead St isn’t as relentless as the Mountaineers, Sean Woods is going to press and trap and push around a team that’s just as small as they are. As usual, expect FTs tonight. Morehead is going to foul you, and the Norse foul just as often. This is a 80+ FT game candidate…….UMBC wants to press and play fast, as Aki Thomas has a healthy roster with Elliott back (Darley out apparently though). Davis and Wilson haven’t looked great on the ball early for Northern Colorado, but BJ Hill’s precision motion offense is usually one of the better teams in the country at protecting the ball. Tough style for UMBC to use in their first game in high altitude……..I love the improvements Dana Ford made with immediate impact transfers, but he’s going to have to pack in the lane against a bigger, more athletic MTSU in the frontcourt. The TSU frontline has already been decimated by injuries, and MTSU as we know can pound the glass, but struggle to find offense on the perimeter outside of Giddy Potts. Think we see a bounce back game after from the Blue Raiders after the Murray State loss……WIU’s offense has been outstanding. They have four guys on the court who can penetrate, they can shoot but don’t rely on the 3, and they don’t turn the ball over. I’ve seen the EIU defense twice so far, and had my breath taken away by how poor it was each time. They have no size, and they can’t rebound, which is the one are I’ve seen that WIU really struggles in…….Undermanned Illinois might be in trouble again, as they’re basically daring teams to shoot from outside, and UTC has been a team that looks like they can fill it up from 3 with the additions of Burroughs-Cook and Woods, and they have Tuoyo who can bang with Thorne, the only consistent source of offense for Illinois……..Sharp shooting SUU is going to get a chance to fill it up from outside against UTSA, but they have to prove they can handle UTSA’s zone press. And that’s a big if, especially after what I saw vs UNLV when Rice went to a 3/4 court press, but the elevation could eventually wear them out…….Texas State (Gant, Roberson), Pacific (three suspended players), and UC Riverside (Taylor Johns), all missing or could be missing key pieces tonight. Riverside added two big shooters in Boezeman and Johnson alongside Bland, and you’re always going to have opportunities from outside against a Rex Walters defense. Kaspar has installed a more motion based offense with quick ball movement to try to remedy their offensive woes, but with Gant and Roberson both ?, that’s a tall order vs UTEP. Pacific is likely without their starting frontcourt again, and they’ll be facing an outstanding Nevada frontcourt of West and Oliver. I’m also excited to see what Marqueze Coleman has in store for his encore after his Hawaii performance in the 2H, which could go down as the best individual performance I’ll see this year. You have to fear an island hangover from the Pack, but if they have the legs, Pacific will put them on the FT line……Princeton is likely without Brase again tonight, and the Tiger offense looked disjointed enough without him to make me think St. Peter’s has a chance here. Watch out for the FR Portley for the Peacocks……New Mexico’s athleticism and versatility inside and out is criminally underrated. They don’t necessarily want to run with USC, but they can. The last game of the night could turn into the most exciting and high scoring.

PREDICTIONS:
FSU -9
Syracuse -17
PC -15
Kent State -12
VMI +9
UNCG +6.5
UNCW -5.5
Morehead State -5.5
No Colorado -9
FGCU -6
FIU PK
URI -13
Buffalo -11
MTSU -3
WIU -4.5
UTC +5.5
SUU -7.5
St. Peter’s +11.5
Texas State +8.5
Nevada -3
UC Riverside +6
New Mexico +6.5

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