Archive | December, 2016

12/31 Saturday Thoughts

31 Dec

PREDICTIONS: 724-561-21, 150-119-6

Xavier -2 (LJ Peak says his groin is fine but he wasn’t playing like it was vs Marquette. Georgetown plays with some pride defensively after JaJuan Johnson said postgame they were basically really bad it? Xavier has plenty of length they can throw at Georgetown’s big guards, as long as they’re able to keep Macura out of bad switches consistently.)

Furman -17 (Furman capable of the blowout here because they’re 1) well rested and of course fully aware of the Loot and Shoot 2) they’re an excellent, excellent transition defense 3) they can really shoot the ball and 4) they have solid ball handling guards, and a big PG in Fowler, vs the press. The Citadel could in theory stay competitive as stud FR shooter Preston Parks has found his range finally after a lousy start, and you just never know with the amount of 3s they chuck and how hot they’ll be. I’ll go with the areas I can at least quantify.)

Tennessee State -1 (Hate picking against the better team, which TSU undoubtedly is, but a few things working for Murray State here. They’re off a relatively poor defensive effort against Brescia and should be tightening up there (in theory), they have dual PGs that can handle TSU’s big aggressive guards, they can shoot against a defense that really walls off the paint, and they’re playing on national television to open conference play. A few things working against them, they can’t defend anywhere really and few teams work the ball to the rim more than TSU, TSU’s defense is exceptional inside and out, as they force you to take jump shots over their lengthy backcourt, and like I said to start, the Tigers are undoubtedly the better team. Chance for an up and coming OVC program to really kick off the season against an OVC elite program quite possibly in for a down year.)

SMU -8.5 (ECU holds very slight intrigue here with Sheppard starting as Clarence Williams left the team. Dual PG look makes the Pirates better offensively, but doesn’t give Lebo the same defense with his zone that he likes. So smaller with a slight uptick offensively, slight ding to defense. That also might not mean too terribly much against SMU’s outstanding compact defense and massive guards.)

Charlotte -6 (Niners uptick defensively with Ajukwa likely cutting into Vanhook’s minutes at the 4, UNT uptick offensively with Deckie Johnson likely back. Keith Frazier hasn’t really been as big of a factor as initially hoped in his two games with UNT, but we’ll see going forward with more time to work out the roster, same with Woolridge. UNT a good transition defense in terms of limiting those opportunities, but won’t create much offense with their pressure vs Jon Davis led backcourt of Charlotte.)

Indiana State +6.5 (Trees pretty good at limiting jump shooting teams, which Missouri State is. Question is can poor jump shooting Indiana State hit jump shots against a Missouri State defense that really wants you to take them?)

South Florida +11 (USF’s paint touch limiting defense is good enough to compete against Houston offense that works everything through the paint. USF’s miserable offense can’t compete however (although Holston won’t be as bad as his return from injury against ECU, and they’ll need him to hit perimeter shots against a very good Houston interior defense), and lots of zone makes them a poor rebounding team defensively against a very good offensive rebounding team. This one has ugly grind out win after the big win in Storrs written all over it for Houston. When I say ugly I mean like really ugly, like 60-50 or even worse.)

Towson +3 (Strengths and weaknesses amplified here in a matchup of extremes. Towson has some ball movement issues against UNCW pressure, but those could be improving with Starr seeing more time as the primary ballhandler. Towson is looking to take jump shots against a defense that doesn’t allow them, and they should be able to typically bully their way on the offensive glass against a lineup that usually only has one frontcourt player on the floor in Cacock, and it’s also difficult to score inside against the Tigers, which isn’t true the other way. These games got chippy last year, and I would expect the same tomorrow. If Towson has some PG issues sorted out, they could win.)

UNC -18 (Defensively Georgia Tech can compete, offensively they cannot.)

Clemson PK

Duke -4

Indiana +2.5 (RoJo has to step up big here as both a ball handler and leader against Louisville pressure. If not, could be a long day for the Hoosiers in Indy. Difficult matchup for Indiana on paper, so call this a “fan hunch”.)

Georgia Southern -2.5 (Aggressive matchup zone vs aggressive matchup zone. Southern with the better backcourt, especially if outstanding frosh D’Marcus Simonds’ knee can’t go again.)

Wofford -3 (Wofford can really shoot the ball from the perimeter, which Hoffman’s defense will always allow, and the Terrier defense can really only prevent jump shots. Should be a game Rivers can score nearly 30 or more in.)

IUPUI -9.5 (WIU should be tested in the backcourt like they weren’t vs Fort Wayne, so first real test vs an aggressive defense without their PG, and the Leathernecks are coming off an unrepeatable season best offensive performance in a big road win.)

Iona -12.5 (No chance at stopping Washington here, even if the Gaels have been a disaster of late.)

Monmouth -13.5 (Monmouth gets back on track against an offense that relies too heavily on scoring at the rim vs a ball line concept defense, and Baggett wants to run with the Hawks in a rivalry game this year. Not a good idea.)

Marshall -4 (Like the Herd if Thompson can go against Kessens)

Western Kentucky +2.5 (Something’s going on with Curry’s rotations, and I’m not sure why they leave Delph on the bench for long stretches.)

Rice +4 (If you’re going to beat ODU’s defense it’s going to come from the perimeter, which #analytics poster boy Rice offense can surely do. However, it will have to come in the halfcourt, and Rice’s potent transition offense will be capped.)

Princeton -13.5 (Can’t trust Cal Poly without a PG right now and on tough travel from Phoenix to New Jersey. Weird spot schedule wise for the Tigers though. Lots and lots of jump shots here.)

Creighton +1 (Blue Jays associated with perimeter offense, which is fair considering they’re the best shooting team in the country at the moment, but the majority of their offense works through the paint. Think they can accomplish that against Nova’s defense this year, to an extent, in a raucous atmosphere. Khyri Thomas vs Josh Hart is going to be awesome. Great game on NYE.)

Youngstown State +4.5 (Quick turnarounds on OTs for both. YSU can handle RP40 when Darner employs it.)

South Dakota +2.5 (Yotes not the best shooting team vs 1-3-1 that leaves you wide open, but I don’t trust much of anything about SDSU defensively other than their reliance on teams missing those wide open jump shots.) UPDATE: Tyler Flack out, leaving them defenseless against the Dauminator. Would have to flip to SDSU knowing that

Northern Arizona -2.5 (Woof. The Jacks at the very least play a shell defense that attempts to limit penetration, which means limiting Onwuasor, who has the ball in his hands on nearly every SUU possession. So much bad in this game though on both ends.) UPDATE: Neely out. Had lost his job to Anderson somewhat, but would flip to SUU here with that news. 2nd UPDATE: Kaluna likely out after leaving the game. Jacks are cooked.

Going to try to flesh out analysis in AM for the rest…

ETSU -22

Chattanooga -14

Samford +3.5 (Samford a team I’ve been high on all year, not changing here against jump shooting UNCG. Have to beat Samford in post and UNCG guards tend to go away from White and he gets game flowed out.)

Davidson -10

Florida State +8.5

UConn +2.5 (Adams dependent again) UPDATE: Adams playing, so staying pat on UConn

Air Force -2

William & Mary +1 (Comes down to who’s the better jump shooting team in these games, and that’s the Tribe. Status of Murphy big.) UPDATE: Miller out for Northeastern, which is a big loss, but Murphy playing. Would probably stay pat on the Tribe

Drexel +1

Hofstra -4.5 UPDATE: Bernardi out, which is a ding offensively, but helps defensively for Pride. Staying pat on Pride

Charleston PK (C of C’s defense is so disruptive against motion sets, and Elon runs that McKillop motion. Eddy looks slowed by clunky knee brace.)

Pitt -1

Fort Wayne -9 (Brutal trip from Denver to Fort Wayne, and Dons should be refocused after bad home loss to WIU, but ORU actually better team. Just a bad circumstance.)

Omaha +7

Oakland -9.5

 

Sacramento State +5.5 (I know. Hornets at least have a good PG against UND pressure, and Hooker looks hurt.)

Tennessee Tech +2

 

SEMO +2 (UPDATE: Kellum and Simmons both suiting up for SEMO. Worth a couple of points total, so would consider SEMO a bold)

Belmont -11.5 (Good game for Belmont’s shooting to get on track)

Milwaukee +5

Wright State -4.5

Montana State -6

Weber State +3

ULM +7.5

Temple +1.5 (Taylor dependent)

UNLV +1

LMU +6.5 (Need Johnson help vs Mika, so sorta dependent on his status) UPDATE: Johnson starting, would consider making LMU bold. Also accidentally switched ULM and LMU numbers, so should have been LMU +6.5, not +7.5. Corrected.)

EIU -3.5

NC State +6

 

Northern Colorado +6.5

UT Arlington -15

App State +3

ULL +2.5

Santa Clara -1

Boise State -6

UT Martin -2.5

Nevada -2 (UPDATE: Cullen Russo MIA in that 1H, which is significant.)

Pepperdine +7

Gonzaga -20

San Diego +23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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12/30 Friday Thoughts

30 Dec

PREDICTIONS: 715-549-21, 149-117-6

Norfolk State +10.5 (NSU should be (almost) healthy/unsuspended for this game that doesn’t matter)

UMass -2

Penn -6.5

Oklahoma State +1 (Huggins and Underwood is a great rematch from March, Evans only available for trip to Morgantown last year vs WVU. Oklahoma State the far superior FT shooting team, which could be a big factor in a game that will see a cacophony of whistles)

Valparaiso -8 (Not sure how McClain attempts to guard Peters with Dixson out of the picture. Only player capable is Odiase, but then that changes his entire defensive structure)

La Salle +9

Northwestern +2 (Sparty offense is going to have to come from the perimeter, and I’m not sure I trust that unit to deliver consistently/efficiently)

Iowa State -5

Rhode Island -13.5

Fordham -4.5

George Mason +2.5 (GMU backcourt built to handle VCU defense and attack)

Kansas State -8

Arizona State +6

TCU +5.5

South Carolina -1

Idaho -6

USC +7

UCLA -19 (Will there be enough possessions?)

Arizona +1

St. Joe’s -4 (Demery back for St. Joe’s, which is key vs both Yuta and Cavy. SJ has the better backcourt, so I’ll go that way vs young team in first road A10 game, although I have been more impressed with GW of late.)

Baylor -5.5 (Can’t trust young OU, even with Woodard back. Discussed more in comments of this post.) UPDATE: Woodard out again, would certainly bold Baylor with that knowledge

12/29 Thursday Thoughts

29 Dec

Back to analysis soon. Been dealing with kidney stones, which hasn’t been a pleasant experience…

PREDICTIONS: 697-540-19, 146-116-6

EMU -7 (Likely no Bibbins, which is death with a FR PG vs Murphy’s zone, but Eagles could be without Toney, although JT4 should be suiting up)

Butler -8.5

Wright State +9.5

Brown -4

IPFW -15.5

ODU -6.5

Tennessee +8.5

Milwaukee +3.5

Auburn -2.5

Cleveland State +1

Northern Kentucky -4

Ole Miss +11

Bradley -1.5

Illinois State -9

South Dakota -3

Loyola Chicago -5.5

Jacksonville State +3.5

Santa Clara +13.5

LSU -2

Weber State -2.5

Montana -12

Gonzaga -27.5

Florida +1

Portland +2

San Diego +11

 

Portland State +1.5

Northern Colorado +1.5

Loyola Marymount +12 (Injury dependent)

Delaware State +12.5

 

12/28 Wednesday Thoughts

28 Dec

PREDICTIONS: 681-523-18, 143-112-5

UMass +3.5

UConn -1 (Totally dependent on Adams’ availability)

Penn -7

Florida State -7.5

Villanova -26

Indiana -15.5

Louisville -3

Monmouth +17.5

UNCW +8

ECU -7

NC State -16

Miami FL -23

Indiana State +12.5

Marshall +10.5

Notre Dame -20

Iona -7.5

Providence +10

UNCG -7

UCF -6

Seton Hall +7.5

APSU +12.5

South Dakota State -2

Georgetown +5

Purdue -12

Oral Roberts +4

New Mexico -6

Oregon +2.5

Temple +4.5

Air Force +7.5

Boise State PK

Missouri State +5

Nevada -13

UNLV +6

USC -11

 

 

 

 

 

 

12/27 Tuesday Thoughts

26 Dec

PREDICTIONS: 678-519-18, 143-112-5

Northwestern -2 (With Pat Chambers seemingly going back to his days at BU where his teams played a faster tempo, the key to beating Penn State is keeping them out of transition, and that’s certainly something Northwestern is capable of doing with steady guard play and a solid transition defense. Offensively Northwestern isn’t looking to necessarily challenge PSU’s plus interior defense, but on the other end the Wildcats are one of the better rim protecting defenses in the country (though not quite as good as PSU). In short, PSU is going to be forced to operate in the halfcourt, where they’re simply not as comfortable or efficient.)

Illinois +4 (Maryland tends to struggle when you wall off the paint and keep Melo Trimble from penetrating, and that’s precisely what Illinois does defensively. Offensively Illinois can be a little jump shot reliant, but that’s what Maryland’s defense gives you anyway. Terps drubbed the Illini last year, hitting 14-25 from 3.)

Syracuse -19.5 (Cornell can shoot over the 2-3, but this game takes on a little extra importance for the Orange after what was arguably the most embarrassing home loss in Boeheim’s storied tenure. Cornell’s excellent drag screen transition game will be a nonfactor vs Syracuse, and they’re back in New York after a Vegas tournament that saw them play two games in two days, and that was after a west coast trip.)

Wisconsin -18 (Good chance Rutgers loses by 30+ here. Steve Pikiell has clearly turned things around in a hurry in Piscataway. I’ve mentioned it several times over here, but Pikiell has placed an emphasis on getting the ball to the rim and denying everything at the rim on the other end. They’ve also done that against one of the easiest schedules to date. Defending Hayes in space and Happ inside is an entirely different animal, and Rutgers has  been extremely slow to rotate on the perimeter defensively, which will really kill you against the Badgers’ ball movement.)

Texas -13 (Probably tough sledding for Kent State in Austin, as they tend to struggle when the offense can’t filter offense through Jimmy Hall (see how they fared against Oregon State’s zone), and Texas has both length and athleticism in the frontcourt. Conversely, Texas might have their own offensive issues against Kent State’s sagging defense and solid interior defense, and Senderoff will surely test the turnover prone ball handling duo of Roach and Jones with some pressure.)

Minnesota -5 (Matchup problems abound for Michigan State in this one, especially if Pitino keeps Coffey at the point for extended stretches like he did vs Arkansas State. Pitino also dusted off the 2-2-1 press vs Arkansas State, something I thought he had sort of retired, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he threw it out at the FR PG Winston tomorrow. Obviously things change a bit if Miles Bridges is able to go, but he looks incredibly doubtful. With Reggie Lynch lurking at the rim, Izzo can’t efficiently work through Nick Ward like he has been throughout December with Bridges out, and Sparty’s wing corps has been majorly disappointing to date.)

Memphis +3 (Some matchup issues here for Memphis against SMU’s packed in defense, as few teams in the country take more shots at the rim than Memphis and SMU simply doesn’t allow a lot of shots in the paint. However, I’m really hesitant to trust SMU on the road against Tubby’s ball line defense that’s so long and versatile on the perimeter. Think SMU’s lack of a PG gets exposed in this situation, as the Tigers can match Shake Milton’s length on the perimeter. On paper, this looks like it could be a Stanford redux for SMU, but again, I’m just not sold on road SMU.)

 

12/25 Sunday Thoughts

24 Dec

PREDICTIONS: 677-516-18, 143-112-5

Utah -13.5 (Haven’t seen anything from SFA to suggest they can stay quasi competitive, even with Kyle Kuzma likely out again for Utah. SFA will improve once Charles is ready to go, but until then they’re kind of a mess, and nearly losing to USM without Price and Rowe does not portend good things. In short, this is likely to be similar to Utah’s game with Hawaii, ugly better never really competitive, especially if Holyfield can’t stay on the floor defensively. SFA has been getting gashed at the rim when teams handle their in your chest pressure. The ray of hope for the Jacks? Utah doesn’t have a PG, and they’ll turn it over plenty. In theory SFA has some revenge in mind from the tight tournament loss to Utah two years ago, but really Dallas Cameron is the only player (and coach) left from that team. Who stays out of foul trouble the longest? Collette or Holyfield? Could be the determining factor in whether this is a competitive game or a blowout.) UPDATE: TJ Holyfield rolled an ankle in practice is out today. SFA stands zero chance in this game without him. Would almost certainly make Utah a bold pick here with that knowledge, but Ty Charles back for SFA sort of negates that.)

Southern Miss +11 (Woof. Tough to even talk about this game, but Hawaii can’t shoot it straight and USM is going to sit in a zone and wall off the paint. On the other end, no reason to think USM has any real chance at consistent, efficient offense until Price comes back, and to add salt to the wound, big man Tim Rowe is done for the year. Jack Purchase’s mobility in the frontcourt probably wins this game for Hawaii, and you have the host team wanting to close the tournament strong against a team ready to go home, but it won’t be pretty, as the Bows haven’t sniffed 1ppp vs a zone this year.)

Illinois State -4.5 (Muller’s inability to effectively gameplan/prep on quick turnarounds won’t necessarily be tested here against a Tulsa team they’ve already seen this year, and are looking for revenge against after blowing a double digit lead in a game they dominated for 30+ minutes. Redbirds have tons of length, athleticism, and talent, but they seemingly lose focus defensively and tend to fall in love with jump shots offensively, which often leads to runouts, negating their set plus set defenses. Anyway, there’s no question Illinois State is the better team here, but I’ve said that about a lot of their matchups in the Muller era and ended up on the wrong side. That said, I can’t get around the schemes here, and Illinois State can effectively switch on every Tulsa ball screen, which is essentially their entire offense. Pretty simple, if Hawkins and McIntosh shoot 13 threes again, Illinois State will likely struggle. ISUred is even better defensively with Ndiaye in the fold protecting the rim.)

San Francisco +5.5 (USF has picked up Kyle Smith’s motion MUCH quicker than I anticipated, and he’s somehow developed remarkable depth with this roster. Depending on the on court personnel, this offense is a penetrate and kick motion, screen the screener motion, drag screen in transition, you name it. Bottom line, they have multiple ball handlers and multiple shooters at every position. I anticipated they’d struggle against Illinois State’s length on the perimeter, but that was often negated by the Dons’ outstanding ball movement, and that should be the case again on Christmas. On the other end, with that depth Smith mixes and matches defenses, and will go man to 2-3 depending on personnel. I expect him to test SDSU from the perimeter, as I’m sure he recognizes that SDSU’s 7-10 shooting from 3 in a 4 minute stretch to pull away from Tulsa was an extreme outlier. SDSU and Tulsa were tied with 11 minutes to go, the Aztecs hit 7 of 10 from 3 on 10 straight possessions, while Tulsa went cold. Very minor point in SDSU’s favor…Dev Watson, who transferred from USF when Walters was fired. He knows the tendencies of his former teammates, but is totally unfamiliar with Kyle Smith’s offense.)

12/23 Friday Thoughts

23 Dec

PREDICTIONS: 667-508-17, 141-111-5

Texas State +3 (Woof. This game should be plenty ugly. Kaspar’s aggressive man to man defense is the best unit on the floor here, but Texas State’s offense isn’t going to expose where Tulane is weak defensively, which is in transition and vs dribble penetration. I’m doubtful Tulane will be able to run consistently, and I’m even more doubtful of their ability to run offense in the halfcourt against Texas State.)

UConn -3.5 (Do I trust UConn’s offense? Of course not. But Auburn’s going to have to hit jump shots to win, as you’re not likely to beat UConn in transition and you won’t beat them at the rim. Can Auburn do that? Certainly. They have great jump shooters with length, but UConn is able to negate their athleticism, and it’s the first true road game for Auburn outside of the state of Alabama.)

Providence -9 (BC is the anti UConn, as they get torched in transition and at the rim. Emmitt Holt is playing well enough in the paint to make me think PC quasi runs away.)

Oral Roberts +3 (ORU’s numbers are skewed because of their ridiculous schedule, but they’re a really tough, physical team defensively, especially at the PG position with Anderson, who is also fully healthy now, and he’ll be key against Richmond’s motion. Even more key though is the fact that Martin, Nzekwesi, and Owens are all mobile at the 3/4/5, and can get out with Cline and Wood within Richmond’s offense that moves them out of the lane. Should be a good game.)

Northern Kentucky +24 (Lavone Holland and NKU have at least seen Press Virginia, which more than you can say about WVU’s last few opponents that they’ve run the TO rate up on. Granted, Holland turned it over 8 times and NKU turned it over on 37% of their possessions as a team, but it was the first game of the season, and NKU is much more equipped this year to handle pressure with Marshall Faulkner in the rotation as well. Not saying NKU won’t lose by 30+, but there’s at least a glimmer of hope here to keep it within reason. They’re also a good defensive rebounding team against the always dangerous offensive glass eaters of WVU.)

Rutgers +11 (I’ve mentioned several times that Steve Pikiell has made it a point of emphasis in his first year at Rutgers to score at the rim (highest % of shots taken at the rim in the country) and defend at the rim (4th lowest FG% allowed at the rim in the country). Unfortunately they’ve done it against the 2nd easiest schedule in the country to date. First and only test against a good team went OK defensively at Miami, but went horrendously offensively. Kind of expect something similar against a Seton Hall team that is actually very similar to Rutgers in that they get a lot of their offense inside and are outstanding defensively in the paint. They just do it with better players. Rutgers was embarrassed in these meetings under Eddie Jordan, and I think Pikiell will have them at least competing. Just not sure they’ll be able to score.)

Oakland +1.5 (Weird all around with UGA traveling to the Orena after a win over a rival and Oakland playing their third game in 4 days after a tough game with Michigan State. Matchup wise however it favors UGA, as they’re tough to beat in transition, but Oakland’s interior defense is actually quite strong, and that’s a plus against Maten.)

VMI +26.5 (Why not? Dayton walls off the paint defensively, but VMI’s offense is QJ Peterson (and Eleby) chucking it from deep, and they can get unreasonably hot. Defensively VMI doesn’t overhelp on penetration, staying at home on shooters (and they’ve had some really bad 3 point luck go against them this year) instead. That’s not really ideal against Cooke and Smith, but VMI can stay quasi competitive if Peterson is on, and Dayton’s defense will sorta allow him to be on.) UPDATE: Charles Cooke is out for the Flyers tonight

Minnesota -12 (I like Arkansas State quite a bit, but quick turnaround with tough travel from Alabama to Minnesota, and it’s a pretty bad matchup to boot. ASU is entirely reliant on dribble penetration from their guards and getting to the FT line off of it, but Minnesota’s one of the best rim protecting teams in the country on the back end, but they really don’t even let you get to the rim, allowing the 16th lowest attempt rate there in the country. They do that will simultaneously not fouling. Tough one for ASU. Gophers will also have Coffey back for this one.)

Harvard +12 (A few things to like about Harvard in this one. 1) It’s all about the paint for Houston on both ends. Their offense flows through the paint and their defense is built on keeping the ball out of the paint. That sets up ok for Harvard, who is a plus defensive team in the interior, and their offense is no longer Edosomwan centric, as they’re far more perimeter oriented with the stud freshmen Aiken and Towns and Chambers back. 2) Amaker has had more than two weeks to figure out the ever present offense/defense rotational issues he seems to have, and in a similar situation the Crimson played their best basketball in Hawaii last year after Amaker had plenty of time to prep.)

Florida A&M +38.5 (No clue. I’ve seen very little of FAMU this year, but if they’re like last year, they’re entirely dependent on turning you over and getting in transition, which isn’t ideal against Wisconsin, but is at least a path that some teams have found a little success with in the Gard era, as is dribble penetration, the only way FAMU operates when they do have to play in the halfcourt.) UPDATE: Desmond Williams is out for FAMU, which would certainly move me off the Rattler

Tournament additions:

Updating via mobile, and the app is junk, so “bold” opinions will simply say “bold”. Thanks for reading!

<BOLD>Cornell -2 (Big Red has shooters and ball handlers abound vs SEMO’s trapping zone pressure. Tough motion offense to face with zero prep.)

SDSU -3 (Ball screen defense at a premium against Tulsa, and SDSU is excellent at it when they’re right. Are they right? Can they score?)

Chicago St +10.5 (Both playing their 5th game in 9 days, but CSU should have fresher legs as Troy’s travel has been more intense with altitude mixed in too. Dildy’s hair on fire up the line traps (using less this year though) can cause some issues on no prep, no rest. There’s also an equal chance CSU loses by 30 here. Close or blowout depending on Troy’s legs.)

SFA -9.5 (Seems too high for SFA team riddled with key injuries and unable to defend, but USM is a disaster area until Price returns, and Doc’s zone may expose the Jacks’ poor shooting, but not their most glaring issue, which is turnovers. Conversely, without Price USM should struggle against SFA pressure. Big Tim Rowe can’t guard Holyfield either. UPDATE: Tim Rowe is out for the season)

Missouri St -5.5 (In season revenge for the Bears after they blew a late double digit lead at DePaul, and Lusk wasn’t happy with his defense last night and clearly let them know it. Bears know they’re the better team and likely show it tonight.)

Illinois St -7.5 (Impressed with USF every time I see them, as they have 5 shooters on the floor that can all absolutely stroke it in Smith’s system. Illinois St will let you shoot jump shots, that’s the point, because they can close you out with tons of length. Redbirds can get a little jump shot happy themselves though, which isn’t where you beat the Dons. If ISUred doesn’t use their veratile length to their advantage offensively, USF will certainly be in this game. Concerned that Smith >>>> Muller on no rest no prep.)

Wyoming +9 (Pokes can compete here. They love to push off the D glass for a quick shot before D is set, and Troy proved you can do that against the Trojans, who are also lackluster in pnr defense. USC short bench an issue. USC falls apart offensively if/when McLaughlin has to rest.)

Utah -8.5 (No Kuzma for Utah, and it’s clear they’d be lost if not for Barefield and Collette’s eligibility, but having a hard time getting myself there on Hawaii. Bows should have lost by 40 if not for some suspect officiating last night that put ISUred’s two best players in early foul trouble. Young Bows aren’t nearly ready yet, but Ganot will have them competitive come Big West play. The good news is Allen has a plus matchup with Kuzma out, as Utah doesn’t know what they’re doing defensively.)