Archive | November, 2016

11/30 Wednesday Thoughts

30 Nov

PREDICTIONS: 350-255-8, 90-66-3

New Hampshire +12 (I’m a fan of this UNH team, but this is a bad matchup scheme wise. UNH is a three point shooting offense against PC’s lengthy perimeter that aggressively shades the arc, and the Wildcats interior defense is suffering with a still suspended (as far as I know) Jacoby Armstrong missing from the middle, but UNH does have a few things working for them tomorrow as I’m not sold on PC’s 2PT offense from Bullock and Holt, and they have URI looming on Saturday. UNH a veteran team with veteran guards and a defense stretching scorer)

Temple +1 (These games always come down to a possession (at least 3 of the last 4 have), but Temple is the better team. Essentially comes down to whoever hits more jump shots against schemes that you basically have to beat with jump shots, especially with no transition points coming from backcourts that don’t turn the ball over. I’ll take the Owls in that scenario. Way more time for Martelli to prepare though)

Illinois State -11

Michigan -4.5 (We’ll see if Michigan’s transition defense has improved from last year. Or if their perimeter shooting has from the South Carolina game against Buzz’s packed in defense. Hokies want to run off makes and misses equally, and Michigan wasn’t great defending in transition last year.)

FIU +10.5 (FIU’s guards should be able to get the rim routinely against a mediocre at best dribble penetration defense, and Elon’s been on the right side of luck while FIU has been on the wrong side early this year. Think they’re probably a lot closer than double digits apart. Anthony Evans’ insistence on a zone is a little perplexing, but FIU saw this motion offense last year too (it didn’t go great), but the Panthers are far more perimeter oriented this year)

Purdue +6 (Not buying Purdue handling pressure still, but their press break offense has been hyper efficient if/when they do handle pressure. Can Louisville put the ball in the basket enough in halfcourt when they don’t generate a turnover? )

TCU -8

Marshall +1 (Not high on Marshall this year really, but they have Taylor back, Elmore wasn’t eligible for this game last year, and Ohio is banged up (and overrated to begin with), and just not very good defensively, and that includes in transition against the uptempo Herd UPDATE: Thompson out for Marshall, which means no defense against Tony Campbell. This pick looks DOA)

Eastern Michigan -7.5 (UDM has shown they can handle pressure and shot, both of which are necessary against EMU’s hyper aggressive 2-3 zone. The Titans are likely going to be fine offensively. What they haven’t shown is the ability to play any semblance of defense. JTIV should eat inside, and EMU can routinely win off the dribble)

Georgia State -8 (Impressed with what Nagy’s done at Wright State so far, but GSU’s aggressive, athletic matchup zone is a tough matchup scheme wise for the Raiders’ drag screen transition offense)

Cornell +2.5 (Cornell’s missing frontcourt might not hurt them against a Northeastern offensive scheme that spaces their bigs away from the paint most times down court. Big Red can chuck it. If they’re hot they’ll win in Ithaca)

Dartmouth +15 (Scheme wise this is fundamentally a brutal matchup for Dartmouth, but I don’t think you can rely on the ODU offense to outscore anyone by 15. Boudreaux is going to be a nonfactor against ODU’s stifling halfcourt defense, so Smith is going to have knock down stuff from outside for DC to have any chance)

Morehead State -6.5 (Hard to say exactly what the mindset of Morehead State is right now given the circumstances, but this is a good matchup on paper for the Eagles against a jump shooting NKU team)

Western Michigan +5.5 (UNCW far and away the better team, but a weird jaunt up to Kzoo, WMU has solid ball handlers led by Wilder against UNCW press, and Hawkins will throw a zone out against the Seahawks. Should be an ugly win for UNCW)

Miami FL -17

James Madison +4.5 (Holmes off suspension, and that gives Rowe a legit PG, but who knows how much he’s ready to play in his second game. Charlotte offers no resistance defensively in the paint, and this HAS to be a game Yo Dalembert dominates in. Have to be concerned about JMU zone against a Charlotte team that can light it up from outside)

Ole Miss -5.5 (Tough matchup for MTSU against 1-3-1 (although Kermit plays a morphing 1-3-1 himself so the players should recognize it) because the Blue Raiders have changed into a pure post touch offense this year with Williams eligible, no longer the space your bigs away from the rim offense of last year. That said, MTSU is capable of shooting the ball, led by Giddy Potts. It’s just not how they filter offense this year)

Hopefully able to update later games with analysis…

Northern Illinois +5

South Alabama -3.5

Arkansas State -6.5

Colorado State +15

Western Kentucky +1 (Both of these defenses are excessively bad and WKU doesn’t have a PG. Who knows)

Kansas State -14

St. Bonaventure -7.5

Northern Iowa -14

Marquette -24

Fort Wayne -5.5

Drake +10

SMU -5.5

Louisiana Tech +14

Texas Southern +17

Wyoming -7

Virginia -10.5

North Carolina -3

Clemson -11

Southern Utah +9.5 (The revenge of Todd Simon)

BYU -9

UC Irvine +1

USC -17


St. Mary’s -2.5

UC Riverside +23.5




11/29 Tuesday Thoughts

29 Nov

PREDICTIONS: 331-245-8, 87-62-3

Delaware State +21 (Zone vs young, up tempo Johnnies. About all I got for the Hornets, who have a decent backcourt)

Xavier -16.5 (NDSU can hang inside, but lack of a PG here REALLY hurts. Can compete otherwise)

Charleston Southern +16 (Radebaugh’s team will zone you and chuck with veteran guards and small frontcourt. Tide too willing to chuck themselves and take advantage of frontcourt, and Bucs won’t turn it over enough to facilitate a blowout)

George Washington +3.5 (Harvard’s overrated, but Colonials likely without Watanabe again, which scares me from fully getting on board with GW, but fundamentally, GW isn’t going to foul you and they’re not really going to let you beat them with jump shots, which really sort of limits Harvard’s chances, especially with Big Z still apparently in the doghouse and needing foul trouble ahead of him to get PT)

Davidson -3.5 (I like this Mercer team, but Hoffman’s sagging defense/zone will give you the three, which is of course always dangerous against Davidson, and the Bears didn’t even see Gibbs in last year’s meeting. Should be a good one between two coaches who are masters of motion offense. Davidson’s interior defense is dramatically improved from last year and Mercer’s bench is shorthanded)

VCU -5.5 (Fearful of being on the wrong end of Princeton’s offense putting it together, because it’s going to happen sooner than later, but scheme wise VCU’s defense is going to be incredibly difficult for them to gel against, as the Rams just don’t allow you to beat them from behind the arc)

Penn State -7.5

Chattanooga -2.5 (Scheme wise a great matchup for the Mocs against a lacking Coastal frontcourt that really chucks it up from 3. However, something tells me they struggle offensively against Cliff Ellis’ junk zones)

Penn +15.5 (Nothing serious here, just a hail mary based on what I’ve seen from Penn’s offensive spacing looking truly Donahuian this year and Villanova has the Holy War on Saturday. Of course this could easily turn into a laugher)

Hofstra +2.5 (Just a matter of time before Mihalich’s new but talented backcourt picks up his offense, and Columbia’s sagging defense is a good test case for Pemba/Powers/Buie. Mihalich can’t zone Columbia though, as Engles has this team playing pure NJIT ball already. Gustys should be able to board what they don’t make from outside, and Lions unlikely to get him in early foul trouble, which is always an ongoing issue for the Pride)

Central Michigan -1 (Neither defense did much of anything to stop the other in last year’s meeting at W&M. Have to be able to score at the rim to beat CMU, and while Prewitt and Dixon have major advantages on the wing, Shaver’s 1-2-2 zone will get shredded by Keene and Rayson. Tribe’s 4 out motion looked good against Presbyterian zone and Liberty pack line, which both allow jump shots. CMU has their issues defensively, but allowing jump shots isn’t one of them)

Pitt +4

Wisconsin -5.5

Vanderbilt -6.5 (I love what Dana Ford’s doing at Tennessee State, and Vandy hasn’t looked great, but matchup wise, there are some drawbacks for the Tigers. Ford’s offense works strictly north south, getting everything at the rim or getting to the FT line in the process. Not likely to find a lot of success that way vs Vandy’s defense. Conversely, TSU is excessively packed in defensively, which isn’t going to be ideal against Vandy’s shooters. Tigers have been outstanding on the road and would love to get a big win against Nashville big brother, so there are some elements of IU/IPFW here)

Northern Colorado +25 (UNC has severe issues defensively, but first year head coach Jeff Linder’s motion sets look sharp, although the potential loss of sharp shooter Glotta is a concern in that regard)

Eastern Illinois -5 (Really you have to zone EIU, and Wardle’s never going to zone. First true road game for the Braves should get ugly against an EIU team that can beat you off the dribble with Lil T and aggressively defend the perimeter)

Southern Illinois -1.5 (Love Murray’s two PGs in Stark and Jones, but they’ve had some hot shooting while SIU has seen teams be unreasonably hot against them from outside. Some of that could correct both ways in Carbondale)

St. Louis -2.5

Kansas -25

Texas -6.5 (Texas’ offense is predicated heavily on getting the ball inside, which can be difficult against UTA’s ball line defense, but the Horns also aren’t going to turn it over vs that Cross pressure, and a lot of Texas’ bad perimeter shooting numbers have been bad luck. Penetrating against Texas on ball screen mismatches against bigs (because Shaka will switch everything) is key, and not something I think UTA is really capable of doing at 2 and 3, and the Horns are a very good transition defense)

Rhode Island -1.5 (Valpo still isn’t on track shooting the ball, but you’re not going to get on track against URI’s perimeter defense. Valpo’s defensive interior is significantly weaker this year, and I think the Rams can beat them off dribble with bigger guards and Martin in the paint)

FAU +4.5 (Not often do good matchups pop up for FAU, but this is one of them. UTM is jump shot and transition reliant offensively. Those are the two things the Owls take away defensively. Now if they can get some offense, they should be fine, because they’re also a good defensive rebounding team)

Creighton -19 (I like Buffalo more than most, but fresh off a trip from Alaska still without Massinburg and playing a lethal Creighton offense in Omaha isn’t ideal)

Notre Dame -10

Illinois +2

Houston -3

Duke -10.5

SJSU +7 (SJSU just saw a zone vs Wazzu and looked the best they’ve looked vs a zone since…well, a long long time. Some regression expected against Verlin’s zone, but Idaho has some issue with a limited frontcourt that results in a ton of terrible jump shots and likely no Perrion Callandret still)

Pacific +9.5 (Short Nevada bench got shorter with Foster suspension, and they’re fresh off a long trip in Alaska while Pacific had the holidays off, and Stoudamire’s shown a lot of zone early this year, which is a good call against the Pack)











11/28 Monday Thoughts

28 Nov

Took it on the chin a bit yesterday with these grueling holiday tournaments. C’est la vie.

PREDICTIONS: 327-240-8, 86-62-3

Arizona State +15 (There are elements there to believe that ASU can hang around in this game. Shannon Evans is an outstanding ballhandler who has seen ball pressure before (NCAA Tournament game vs WVU that Buffalo very nearly came back and won), and the Sun Devils acquitted themselves well this year against Portland St and The Citadel pressure defenses. Obviously UK is exponentially more athletic and long with their pressure, but ASU will sit back in a zone defensively against unproven UK shooters. Can ASU keep UK off the offensive glass within the zone, and can ASU find anyway to score that isn’t a jump shot. UK’s not going to let you do much from three, and if you’re getting beat back down court off missed jumpers, your zone becomes pretty useless.)

Appalachian State +8.5 (Transition based 4 out scheme with very little defense and zero ability to score in the paint or defend in the paint. The good news for Charlotte’s struggling defense is that they literally just saw this offense when they played Davidson, as Fox uses the same motion principles as his mentor Bob McKillop. The problem for Charlotte is that defensively App St also discourage jump shots, like Davidson teams.)

West Virginia -24.5 (Manhattan’s coming off a 2OT game in Detroit on Saturday, Zavier Turner is turnover prone, and the Jaspers still won’t have Rich Williams back (unless there’s a sudden and dramatic change in his prognosis and they fly him out to Morgantown)

Florida State -8.5 (No sense in even talking about this game until the status of Reggie Lynch is know, but if he’s out, that’s a total game changer, as FSU comes at you north south with length and athleticism. Sounds like Lynch won’t start, and I would guess he’s nowhere near 100% even if available for Minnesota’s first road game of the year. Major loss at the rim on both ends, but especially defensively at the rim, where the Gophers are actually only allowing 24% of FGAs to come. Scheme wise, this is a game Minnesota absolutely competes in if Lynch is available.)

Mississippi State -13 (MSU’s first game without Weatherspoon turned into a disaster against a good Lehigh team. Fortunately for Ben Howland, Northwestern State is nowhere near as good as Lehigh, although they are a strictly transition based offense, which MSU struggled with against Lehigh)

Tulsa -1 (With Wheeler in the fold, Tulsa’s offense has looked much more organized the past two games. ORU has won three straight Mayor’s Cups, and against some pretty good Tulsa teams, with last year’s win coming on an Emegano buzzer beater. Status of ORU PG Anderson is key)

Utah +2.5 (We don’t know much about Utah given their lack of minutes continuity from last year and their lack of competition thus far. We do know they have a ton of height again across the board 1-5, they don’t really have a PG, and they don’t lose at Huntsman. We also know that the Kuzma/Martin matchup at the 3 is going to be tremendous, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Butler use a lot of zone against what should be a disjointed offense at times. Butler doesn’t have a recent history in altitude to speak of.)

Northwestern -4 (Both teams have been hitting the three an extremely ridiculous rate, but Northwestern’s ability to limit Wake in transition means Wake will have to operate almost exclusively in the halfcourt, where they’ve actually been fantastic, thanks to those shooting numbers. I’ll take Wake’s shooting regressing first when they’re forced to operate consistently in the halfcourt on the road.)

Oregon -16.5 (Hutchinson does literally everything for Boise St, and Oregon’s long, lean, versatile athleticism in the frontcourt should be able to check him with multiple options. The Broncos also don’t have a reliant PG against Dana Altman’s trapping schemes.)



11/27 Sunday Thoughts

27 Nov

PREDICTIONS: 315-223-8, 84-58-3

Indiana State -9 (Trees are unquestionably the better team and they’re a solid transition defense vs push off the defensive glass Quinnipiac, but what effect does losing two tight games to marquee opponents have on their mindset today? ISU has also been a poor defensive rebounding team, which is always going to be an issue vs a Tom Moore team)

Howard +19.5 (I’ll take my chances with Howard’s zone vs the Hoyas, even without James Daniel still)

Gonzaga -4 (Looking forward to this one. Gonzaga has looked good in transition defense against Florida but ISU is shooting worse than would be expected from them, so that has to correct soon)

Colorado -21.5 (Only concern here is the weird spot on Colorado’s schedule. Buffs should get whatever they want against a non existent Wofford frontcourt, and while the Terriers burn clock in halfcourt, they’re a mediocre at best transition defense and won’t keep Colorado off the glass)

Montana -1 (Lots of weird travel for Montana of late, but USD is a team that wants to beat you with their 4 out motion, which won’t fully exploit Montana’s weakness in rim protection. Yotes are a team that looked easily flustered by Hofstra’s zone)

Dayton -4.5 (Fully expect Archie to completely pack it in against north south UNM, but the Flyers will be able to snipe on the other end. Could be totally wrong on this one and shorthanded Dayton struggles to stay in front of the attacking Lobos)

Northeastern -4.5 (Coen moves his bigs around in halfcourt motion, and that’s going to force Hall out of the paint on that end, and the Huskies should have plenty of perimeter looks against packed in Kent State defense)

Cleveland State +6 (Vikings didn’t look great against two transition based teams, but don’t trust Duquesne’s guards vs any sort of ball pressure and CSU’s shorthanded offense can really only chuck it from outside vs Duquesne zone, so there’s at least a path to offense here)

Valpo -9 (Ball State’s motion is so vanilla, and Valpo is due for revenge and getting on track in terms of shooting the ball, where they’ve been awful so far)

La Salle -5 (Explorers have had 8 days off to get some geling issues worked out, and if Dr. G is wanting to push this year, a Spiker defense is going to be very susceptible to it. Unfortunately for La Salle they’ve looked awful in transition defense as well (they were fantastic in that regard last year, but that was born out of necessity due to limited personnel), and Spiker is of course going to push it)

Virginia Tech -5 (Both defenses are going to goad the other into taking jump shots, but the Hokies can actually hit them)

St. Mary’s -12 (UAB’s frontcourt might have an athleticism advantage, but Blazers are likely going to be trading 2s for 3s vs SMC’s offense in an arena they’re very familiar with)

Pepperdine -11 (Few teams have been worse protecting the rim than PSU, and Pepperdine offensively isn’t remotely interested in beating you from anywhere else on the court)

Washington State -8 (Wazzu zone and height inside is going to bother banged up SJSU)

Seton Hall -4 (Not sure either offense is going to look great against two stellar interior defenses, as both like to work to the rim religiously)

Southeastern Louisiana +22.5 (Nelson HAS to stay out of foul trouble or else the  Lions are going to get destroyed in the paint. PG Marlain Veal for SLU is a wizard though)

Texas A&M +3.5 (Aggies are a very good transition defense that makes you beat them with jump shots. That takes away two areas of strength for UCLA’s offense. Can post reliant TAMU find enough ways to score though?)

USC -19.5 (Trojans should shred UCSB’s 3-2 zone)

CSUN +3 (Portland’s looked bad in transition defense, but they’re falling into a zone in halfcourt, which can always give CSUN trouble, but Theus way more aggressive on the perimeter this year, which is key vs a very good shooting Pilot team)


ETSU -6.5 (Obviously UCI needs Luke Nelson back, but that’s not the only issue with the Eaters early.)

CSUB -4 (Pressure scheme vs pressure scheme on tired legs. 60+ fouls in this one)

Sacramento State +3.5 (The collection of defenses in this EWU tournament are among the worst in the entire country, but at some point teams have to cool off a bit against Katz’ zone right? Offenses are shooting an absurd 54% from 3 against the Hornets. Denver’s offense is built to shoot from the Joe Scott era, so who knows)

Milwaukee +5 (Panthers at least have some shooters against soft SDSU zone. Will Daum dominate interior, or are Jacks simply a jump shooting team now? They’ve been trailing a lot, but also chucking them up at an absurd rate before the scores have gotten out of hand)

Missouri State -5 (Bears lost a game they shouldn’t have vs DePaul, but this is a very good Missouri State. They can stroke it from outside and have underrated athleticism inside. Defensively they don’t allow much of anything at the rim in terms of actually getting the ball there. Dave Richman’s defense does discourage jump shots, but if Jacobson’s out, you have to think Bison struggle to score)

UNCW -4.5 (By Sunday you really have to grow tired of these tournaments. Seahawks have sudden depth issues and Toledo just played 3 total OTs in back to back games with a banged up Williams)

Evansville +4 (Evansville coming off 2OT Friday and a buzzer beating loss last night. MTSU coming off OT last night. Just impossible to rely on much on these b2b2b tournament games. Aces are significantly weaker on glass this year without EMock, which is always a detriment vs a Kermit Davis team, but that motion offense is so hard to prep for with no prep time)

Wright State -5.5 (You’re always going to have some issues beating a Scott Nagy defense if you’re reliant on the three, so UNF is likely in trouble here. Raiders are looking to push this year, and UNF is fairly poor in transition defense)

Florida -1.5 (Probably looking at this one too statically, but not sure how Miami scores)

San Francisco -1.5 (Jimbo Lull was MIA yesterday, and while he’s limited offensively, even he could put up 20+ vs the EWU interior defense. The Dons’ offense put up 1.2ppp vs Sac St (again, the defenses in this tournament are just abysmal), and that was with nothing from Ronnie Boyce. Dons can probably name their number against a porous top to bottom defense also missing their best perimeter defender)




11/26 Saturday Thoughts

26 Nov

PREDICTIONS: 288-206-7, 77-52-3

Back to full analysis on Monday…

Canisius +5.5 (The Griffs aren’t good, but Witherspoon has them playing incredibly slow and shading the three point line with zero rim protection behind. YSU is all Cam Morse from the perimeter and uptempo drag screens offensively, so some chance Canisius hangs here)

Duke -31.5 (Shabazz is one of the best under the radar pure scorers in the country, but Duke takes away jump shooters, and App State’s McKillop motion offense is very jump shot reliant)

Xavier -9 (Tough one for UNI. They hit jump shots at a good rate in the first meeting, which is available vs XU, but got overwhelmed by the wing athleticism of the Muskies. Don’t see much changing here. UNI hits their jump shots, but just won’t be enough)

Tulane +7.5 (Green Wave’s interior defense against pound it inside Georgia Tech will be tested, but they’re actually a little underrated in terms of athleticism. Tech does have PG Heath back today though)

Eastern Michigan -7 (EMU’s active 2-3 zone vs Omaha’s press. Thompson and Thurman basically traded buckets in the paint last year, which was a little surprising from an EMU defensive perspective. Teams have been hitting jump shots at an absurdly high rate against EMU zone. That should return to normal levels at some point soon)

Harvard +5 (Jarreau injury is a major setback for Minutemen. Key to Kellogg’s uptempo offense. Pipkins is a quick handed defensive whiz, but can’t run offense)

Detroit PK (Titans are horrific defensively, Jaspers are bad offensively. Titans have solid enough ballhandlers vs press and an advantage at 3/4)


Elon -6.5 (Josh Martin status?)

Alabama State +8 (CSUF played arguably the worst offensive game I’ve seen this year and were dominated inside and on the glass by a guard oriented team. Surely they improve today, but they look lost without Ahmad and Taylor doesn’t have any idea what rotations he wants to use)

Syracuse -7 (Obviously Syracuse isn’t going to keep shooting 45% from three, but I’ve been waiting on USCe’s shooting to plummet as well. Finally run into a team that can match their guard athleticism)

Marist +4

Milwaukee +11

Central Michigan +5.5

Miami OH -6

Iowa -3

Penn State +2

Davidson -13 (Holy points! Holy lack of defense!)

Loyola Chicago +12

South Alabama -3 (USA’s frontcourt is far more athletic than people realize)

NAU +7

Loyola MD +25 (Greyhounds aggressively shade the three point line, banking on that to keep them in this game, and they have a plus backcourt led by Andre Walker)

NIU -9

North Florida +5.5

ECU +2

Houston -18.5

Fordham -1

ETSU -6.5

UC Davis +7.5

George Mason -4


Houston Baptist +23.5

San Francisco -4.5

Richmond -6.5

Virginia -13

North Dakota +2

Mercer +4.5

UNLV -4.5


Eastern Washington -2.5

Kansas State -1.5

Buffalo +1


Iona +6

11/25 Friday Thoughts

25 Nov

Busy with post Thanksgiving travel, so only have time for predictions…

PREDICTIONS: 261-182-7, 63-40-2

Miami FL -3

Illinois +8.5

Wichita State -6

Stanford -6.5


Elon +3

Texas Tech -24.5

New Mexico -6

Temple +14

Baylor +3

North Dakota -2

Alabama State +2

Cal Poly -3.5

Mercer -2

Texas A&M -2.5

Toledo -3

UC Davis -2

ETSU -13

Rhode Island -13.5

Morehead State +13

Tennessee Tech +16.5

UT Martin +28.5

Virginia -11

Kansas State -12.5

Maryland -6.5

CSUB -2.5

VCU -7.5

Ohio State -12

USC -3

Air Force +7

Seton Hall -22

Niagara +3.5

Santa Clara +7

Washington -6.5

Minnesota -15.5

MTSU +4.5

Texas State -4

UC Irvine -2.5

Fresno State +4

Utah -20

Memphis +2.5

Nevada -7

Dayton -9.5

St. John’s -1

LMU -9

Florida +2.5

Butler -1 (An error from initial post! Meant Butler initially but mistranslated notes)

TCU -5

Wyoming +15.5

Weber State -4

Nebraska +9

Troy +7





11/24 Thursday Thoughts

24 Nov

PREDICTIONS: 252-172-7, 60-38-2

Indiana State +13.5 (The scary part about Iowa State’s start is that they aren’t shooting the three well yet. The unscary part (if you’re their opponent) is that they haven’t played anyone yet. Clones aren’t likely to get on track from 3 against Greg Lansing’s tricky matchup zone. Lansing is a plus Xs and Os guy, and his matchup zone always aggressively shades shooters, and they’re always an excellent transition defense as well. The biggest down side for the Trees in this one is their lack of mobility in the frontcourt when Prohm is going 4 out. That said, ISUblue has a junkyard dog mentality, and Everett Clemons is one of the top 5 most underrated PGs in the country, and he’ll be in Monte Morris’ jersey all day. Think the Trees can stick around.)

Temple +10.5 (Temple’s not going to turn it over, but that’s not really how FSU gets in transition, where they’re very good, and otherwise Temple isn’t a very good transition defense in terms of limiting those opportunities. When FSU doesn’t run, they could have some issues against a very good rim protecting Owl defense. Talent gap is considerable here, but Temple’s interior defense should keep them around.)

Texas A&M -13.5 (CSUN beefed up the frontcourt this year, as Theus finally has his roster of transfers eligible, including former Aggie Dylan Johns, but most notably UConn transfer Rakim Lubin, and that’s key against one of the few remaining primary post offenses in the country. That said, I don’t see how CSUN scores. TAMU is an elite transition defense, and they don’t put you on the line, which are CSUN’s only consistent paths to offense.)

Stanford +7 (Jim Larranaga’s defense will aggressively take away the three point line with their versatility 1-4 and ability to switch on every screen. The early numbers don’t reflect that in terms of three point rate because the Canes have played three teams who really chuck it from 3 in WCU, UNF, and Penn. Stanford under Haase will be working exclusively inside/out, so this is the first real test for a young Canes frontcourt besides Murphy, and in fact, talented Penn FR big man AJ Brodeur kind of had his way in the post last time out. Stanford’s defense paint to three has been outstanding early, and they’re great on the glass. Can they keep Miami off the FT line?)

Illinois +8.5 (Strictly by the numbers and led by Abrams, Illinois just doesn’t have the ball stolen from them that often. That said, it’s totally different going up against that West Virginia pressure. Regardless, Illini will get to the FT line regularly, while simultaneously forcing WVU into jump shots. That is of course all contingent on not turning the ball over 40% of the time.)

Ole Miss -10.5 (Montana’s zone offense is feeble (see Wazzu game). They don’t have consistent shooters or a playmaker in the high post (although Gfeller broke out of his funk vs ORU’s sagging defense). Kennedy’s 1-3-1 should be bothersome and Saiz could own the paint.)

Virginia Tech -5 (Incredibly similar teams here. Both want to run downhill and attack the rim and pack it in/underscreen to force jump shots and run off the misses on the glass. I’ll take the team with more shooters, and that’s the Hokies, as the Lobos have Brown (who has been cold) and…?)

Gonzaga -25 (Same old Quinnipiac. Can’t hit the ocean with jumpers and relying on crashing the glass on the defensive and running the floor for a quick shot and crashing the glass on the offensive end before the other team is down the floor. Gonzaga shouldn’t have an issue dispatching the Bobcats. This is a defense NWG can break down every time down court.)

Butler -7 (I’m not pronouncing Vandy’s season as DOA quite yet, but Butler has too many paths to offense from Martin and Woodson to Baldwin off the dribble.)

Nebraska +5 (I’ve learned not to discount Dayton just because they’re shorthanded in the frontcourt, but they are going up against a very good rebounding team and very good interior defense. The paint defense doesn’t matter so much because without Cunningham, Cooke, Scoochie, and the Davises are going to have to hit jump shots to win anyway against Miles’ pack linish defense. I don’t fully trust Nebraska’s offense yet to really feel confident in the Huskers though, especially with Dayton likely to be packed in.)

Seton Hall +2.5 (Two outstanding interior defenses (although I was surprised by what Iowa’s bigs were able to get at the rim vs SHU, but the Pirate offense came through for a big road win) and two outstanding transition defenses, but Florida is far more reliant offensively on transition production than the Pirates. If Jones and Carrington can handle the athletic pressure and traps White brings with rangy athletes like Devin Robinson, the Gators are going to be forced to hit jump shots to win, and in that scenario I like SHU’s chances.)

Drake +6.5 (Going out on a limb here with Drake because they surrendered the 11th highest eFG% in transition in the country last year, and Iona certainly thrives in transition. That said, I think Woodward is a steady ballhandler, and the Bulldogs are looking to get everything going to the rim offensively, where Iona is weak with only Washington in the paint in a 4 out lineup, and if your best defender is Jon Severe, you’re probably in trouble on that end. This Iona defense could be historically bad.)

Santa Clara +17 (Herb Sendek coaching against Arizona again in this one. No idea if Trier is playing. Who knows right now? Broncos are going to chuck the three and if Brownridge gets hot, they could hang. Or they get steamrolled on the glass and in the paint.)

Portland +15 (Portland can spread the floor with long shooters and penetrate gaps with an outstanding PG in Alec Wintering. Another WCC team that can hang around if the jump shots are falling.)

Weber State -4 (UC Davis hasn’t been nearly as bad as I projected, and Weber hasn’t been as good as I projected. Maybe I’m looking at this too statically, but I think things balance out a bit here. UC Davis has been shooting exceptionally well, but a Rahe defense always completely takes away the three point line. Weber, with the exception of the outstanding Senglin, has been shooting poorly. They’ve also had a week to prepare while Davis is off a big rivalry win over Sacramento State. Tough to beat Weber State with your guards, and while Moneke is off to an excellent start, he’s undersized in the post.)


BOLD [sorry, updating via mobile and the wordpress app is less than ideal, but this a bold pick fwiw] Louisville +2 (While Louisville is obviously coming off a physical, late OT game where Donovan Mitchell looked visibly exhausted, this is the first time Frankamp and Shamet will be seeing pressure like this.)

Michigan St +4 (Not at all confident with this one because I’m not sure what Izzo can get from Ward and Goins against Baylor frontcourt, and I love my man Manu at the point, but Sparty looked way more physical and Sparty like against St. John’s after the FGCU rebounding debacle)

Old Dominion -1.5 (Concerned about the hangover for ODU, and Brandan Stith looked banged up at the end of the game, but scheme wise LSU is screwed again here. Won’t get anything in transition or at the rim. Just a matter of Monarchs having same intensity as last night)

VCU -6.5 (I like what’s going on generally at St. John’s. Lovett looks legit and there are multiple ballhandler and athleticism at the rim defensively. Unfortunately they’re too jump shot reliant against a defense that takes away jump shots, and that interior athleticism on the defensive end isn’t translating on the offensive end)