1/22 Friday Thoughts

22 Jan

PREDICTIONS (1081-841-46):

Not exactly ideal for either Duquesne or George Mason to have this game moved up to this afternoon, as they’ll both be on a quicker than usual turnaround after playing two pressing, harassing defenses. I thought Duquesne actually played better than the final score indicated at VCU, as they essentially had to play the entire game with their entire frontcourt in foul trouble with Lewis, Powell, Robinson, and Gill all picking up some incredibly questionable calls early, and if you’ve seen Duquesne this year, their defense is predicated on more pack line principles than it is the pressure zone Ferry had been using in previous years. That packed in defense, if they stay out of foul trouble, should be a major issue for GMU today, who can’t shoot consistently from outside and has to score at the rim with Thompson (although you never what you’re going to get from him game by game effort wise, and his ankle is clearly bothering him, was a non factor vs Fordham) or Moore/Livingston penetration. Additionally, Duquesne was already in Virginia before the snow storm, so they’ve had no travel issues, but GMU on the other hand had a hellish trip back from New York. GMU defensively does a great job of staying at home on shooters (typical Paulsen defense), and that can limit a three point heavy Duquesne offense, but I think GMU is going to have to get some jumpers from Gujanicic early to stretch out that compact Dukes defense. That’s certainly possible, but not Mason’s strong suit by any stretch. This one could look pretty ugly considering the circumstances pregame and considering that each defense is designed to limit the strength of each offense.

DUQUESNE +2 (I rarely talk about totals, but under 147.5 seems interesting)

Lonergan has been pretty solid with 6+ days of prep, and Hurley has been solid as well, and I’m sure Hurley noticed from Dayton’s game vs George Washington what Archie did with Pierre against the 1-3-1. Pierre was a menace in the creases of the zone, and GW couldn’t match his versatility/physicality in the middle of the floor. Kuran Iverson HAS to be that guy for Rhode Island today. He’s not as lethal as Pierre, but his play is probably the difference between a big win and a standard road loss for the Rams today. GW will have Joe McDonald back today, which helps against the physical URI guards, but I think URI has a hard time matching up against Cavanaugh today. You can’t throw Martin on him because he’ll draw him away from the rim, and Iverson is a liability defensively when you get him in space.

GEORGE WASHINGTON -5

Toledo got basically zilch from players not named Nathan Boothe or Jonathan Williams in their loss at Savage to Northern Illinois a few weeks ago, but this is still a Toledo team that can shred zones with their slashing backcourt and the mobile Boothe, who can seamlessly transition from low to high post depending on defense. The pressure aspect of NIU’s zone really disrupted Toledo in the first meeting, but with the exception of CMU, Kowalczyk has been pretty good with in season MAC revenge. The question is whether or not his Toledo defense can string together stops on the road. Maric worked them in the post in the first meeting, and the guards couldn’t stay in front of Baker, so they were fighting a three front battle with the turnovers in the game at Savage. I suspect we’ll see an even more compact defense from Toledo tonight, as they want to test these NIU shooters. Baker is shooting way above his career rates, and there really isn’t a secondary shooter until Highsmith returns.

TOLEDO +1

Rivalry game on national television for Niagara tonight, as they’ll host Canisius on ESPNU, and the Purple Eagles have actually been pretty good at the Gallagher Center, with the only loss in 4 games at home coming to Monmouth (and that includes wins over Manhattan and St. Peter’s). Niagara’s a young team with a lot of players unfamiliar with the Little 3 rivalry, but they’ve at least already gone through the St. Bonaventure game to get a taste. Niagara gets a boost tonight with the return of PG Cam Fowler, which is significant against the high pressure zone they’ll see from Canisius. Niagara is an exceptionally poor three point shooting team (8th lowest mark in the country, by far the worst in MAAC play), and they’re a team predicated on getting the ball into the lane with Scott and Blackman, but those guys have to be able to hit some jumpers tonight, along with stretches Satchell and Prochet. I don’t necessarily think the turnovers will be a huge issue for Niagara tonight, and Casey can extend out with his zone or in man against the Griffs’ shooters because they really don’t have the post presence that has given Niagara issues, but my main concern is simply Niagara being able to hit jump shots. Maybe being at home will help, but they’re 8-29 from 3 in their last 2 games at Gallagher (but those were still two narrow wins).

NIAGARA +4.5

Fairfield and Marist is likely going to be played at a speed and style conducive for a big offensive night from the Stags, even on the road. Maker has been forced to play a saggy/zone defense because of the lack of a frontcourt (Marist’s 4 is 6’5 athletic wing Isaiah Lamb, and the 5 is Eric Truog, who is extremely limited offensively). That’s great news for Fairfield’s prolific three point attack, and great news for their lackluster interior defense, and it means Sydney Johnson can extend out on Hart and Parker with Johnson/Cobb/Segura at times, and Gilbert can check Palsson on the perimeter (although I’m not sure why he didn’t play vs St. Peter’s). Marist is even weaker on the glass than the Stags, which has been an issue for Johnson’s quicker, perimeter heavy lineups all year

FAIRFIELD -2

I’ve mentioned a few times here an on twitter how this St. Peter’s team reminds me of the 2010-11 team that flew under the radar and then beat Iona in the MAAC finals. John Dunne is a brilliant defensive mind, and his team will lock you down You can score from outside against the Peacocks, and Iona’s in full chuck mode off two straight losses and without Jordan Washington in the post again. That being said, the loss of Washington really makes Cluess’ offense vanilla, and Iona has really struggled the past two seasons against lesser St. Peter’s defenses. The Gaels are 3-1 the past two season against St. Peter’s, but one was an OT win at Hynes, and the high powered offense has been limited to .92, .98, 1.03, 1.08ppp in those 4 games. I have my concerns about St. Peter’s offense, but Iona always struggles to stay in front of smaller, quicker guards on the perimeter, and Wyche and Portley have been carrying the Peacocks in that regard of late. Aaron Rountree has to take over Washington’s role offensively, and stay of foul trouble defensively tonight when the St. Peter’s guards get into the lane.

ST. PETER’S +8

Brutal spot in the schedule for Northern Kentucky, as they’re off their biggest win of the year at Oakland and host Valpo in two days. Fortunately, they get to play UIC in that brutal spot, and the Flames are without Paris Burns, who left the team. That leaves UIC, a team that can’t score, without Dom Matthews and a scoring ball handler. Odiase has to stay out of foul trouble against the crafty Billups inside. NKU plays straight up man to man with no gambling, which is probably the best thing UIC can ask for, but who can score besides Dixson?

NORTHERN KENTUCKY -11.5

A healthy Michael Karena has been something of a revelation for Wright State’s offense, as they’re much more effective perimeter team running “paint touch” offense. Due in large to Karena’s play in the post, the Raiders are off to a 5-1 start in Horizon play, and perhaps even more key is that they’ve stayed (relatively) healthy in the backcourt, which has been a major issue the last few years, and has allowed Donlon to go back to his aggressive perimeter defense that hedges hard on every single screen. That being said, the Raiders run into a Valpo team that’s running everyone through the wood chipper on both ends in league play. I’m afraid Karena isn’t going to be effective in the post tonight unless Fernandez gets in early foul trouble (always a possibility, but Valpo has so much depth and versatility in the frontcourt with Skara and Adekoya), and that lock down interior defense allows Valpo to really contest jump shooters with the absurd length they can put on the floor at 2-4. Key battle on the glass tonight. Wright State is always an outstanding defensive rebounding team under Donlon (when healthy), but they generally like to work methodically on offense, filtering it through the post to set up the perimeter. I think they have to push in transition off the defensive glass tonight before that lengthy Valpo defense gets set (see Belmont II). The problem is, Valpo is grabbing a laugh out loud 44% of their misses in Horizon play, which doesn’t really seem fair. It’s an absurd enough number to make you wonder if Donlon decided to switch things up and go under screens, sag a bit to get closer to the rim defensively, and just take your chances with Valpo missing jumpers.

VALPO -8.5

Impossible to know what you’re going to get from Brown on a game by game basis, but they did a few things well vs Yale last Saturday, namely Tavon Blackmon blowing by any and everyone in the Yale backcourt, and the Bears forced a 25% Yale TO rate (which was negated by their own 25% TO rate). I just don’t have too much to say about this one. Brown has talent, but they can’t score inside against Yale, and they were quasi in the game last weekend thanks to Blackmon penetration and Hobbie hitting some shots, both identifiable problems for Jones. Brown basically played their game (got the pace in the 70s, spread the court and attacked the gaps offensively), but it wasn’t nearly enough.

YALE -7

Game of the night is in the AmEast, with Stony Brook looking for uber/mega/berserk revenge after being knocked out of the AmEast tourney by the Danes the last 3 years, with the last two coming in the title game, with the last year’s loss coming at the buzzer with that dramatic (on so many levels) Peter Hooley shot. The Seawolves have been obliterating teams in AmEast play, winning every game by double digits and the last two by 30+. Pikiell’s man to man defense has been *exceptional* in AmEast play. They’re currently holding opponents to an absurd .84ppp (Albany is a distant second at .97). They don’t really gamble defensively, they just guard the hell out of you at all 5 positions. If they do happen to get beat, they don’t really help off the perimeter at all with Warney waiting in the paint. So how did UMBC post 1.14 against them on the road? Warney got in foul trouble early, and Jairus Lyles got hot from 3. That’s basically the only formula to beating the Seawolves at the moment. Offensively I think Stony Brook is punching above their weight from outside (43% from three in AmEast play), but those open looks are always going to be there when you have to collapse on Warney with every touch. Pikiell basically has three point guards on the floor with Puriefoy, Woodhouse, and Walker around Warney, and then he can substitute offense for defense or vice versa with length like McGrew, Sekunda, and Nyama at the 3/4. In short, Stony Brook is a really, really good team. Albany of course has been their huckleberry, and these games are great, but with the structure of the NCAA being what it is, Stony Brook has no shot at an at large bid, so the only one that matters is in March. Albany is playing typical packed in Will Brown defense (which really hasn’t phased Warney all that much over the years in these matchups), but the Albany offense has been awfully dependent on getting to the FT line, which isn’t a formula for success against the Seawolves’ defense. That being said, for Albany to win this game, they’re going to have to have Singletary and Sanders win off the dribble, and Rowley force a couple of quick fouls on Warney, and Hooley is going to have to find his jump shot, which has been AWOL all year. Sanders vs Walker is key on both ends, but I’m not sure who can matchup with McGrew, as neither Hooley nor Rowley can defend him outside or inside the paint respectively. Either Stony Brook wins in a blowout, a close game, or Albany wins in a close game. The only surprising result to me would be an Albany double digit win. I hope that narrows it down (sarcasm font), but I’m leaning towards a Stony Brook win with relative ease. Key is McGrew. Albany has had major issues checking athletic wings (see what Issac Vann did to them in his return for Maine, same with Tanner Leissner for UNH).

STONY BROOK -8.5

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2 Responses to “1/22 Friday Thoughts”

  1. Sean January 22, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    Do you mean GW -5 or RI +5?

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