Archive | January, 2017

1/24 Tuesday Thoughts

24 Jan

SEASON PREDICTIONS: 1145-958-42, 212-185-13

Auburn +9.5 (Dozier status big)

Miami OH +3.5

Akron -4.5

Ohio -6

Bowling Green +5.5

Wichita St -17 added 5:35pm

Louisville -6

Michigan St +2

St. Bonaventure -9

Davidson -13

Kansas +3.5

Rutgers +11

Marquette +5

Syracuse -3.5

Notre Dame -1.5

Wisconsin -15

Northern Illinois -4

Missouri St -9.5

Arkansas +3.5

SDSU -6

Iowa St -3.5

Tulane +16

Eastern Michigan -7

Kentucky -9.5 (Fox status big of course)

New Mexico -8.5

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1/23 Monday Thoughts

23 Jan

#FunBelt Monday, so let’s take a closer look at the state of the Sun Belt after a third of the season.

TIER 1: GEORGIA SOUTHERN, UT ARLINGTON, and GEORGIA STATE

After a third of the year, the Eagles are undefeated, but have also played the league’s second easiest schedule to date (UTA has played the easiest). You know what you’re going to get with the Eagles. They have the best backcourt in the league led by Tookie Brown, Ike Smith, and Mike Hughes, and they’re going to utilize an aggressive matchup zone that dares you to beat them with jump shots and masks their fairly lacking frontcourt. The Eagles are weak on the glass (a byproduct of a four guard lineup and a revolving 5 due to ineffectiveness and injuries), and they’re due for some serious regression, as 5 of their 6 wins have come down to one or two possessions, and only two have been played on the road. The good news is that Southern does avoid UTA on the road, but they finish with a tough three game road trip to the Arkansas schools and rival Georgia State. In short, enjoy the good times right now Eagles fans. That said, the outstanding backcourt and tenacious matchup zone will keep them at or near the top of the standings when the season ends. The Eagles host Coastal Carolina tonight at Hanner, and the Chants are coming off a loss in Atlanta against a similar defensive system from Ron Hunter. The Chants can’t take advantage of Southern’s frontcourt, but they’ll fire away from 3 and have a veteran backcourt who can handle the pressure. Coastal’s due for a bit of leveling out, after they couldn’t hit from 3 and Georgia State couldn’t miss. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Chants be in this one until the end, which would be a typical finish for the Eagles.

UT Arlington is still, in my mind, the team to beat in the Sun Belt. However, that comes with the caveat of Kevin Hervey’s health. Scott Cross really needs Hervey’s knee to hold up through March, as he’s essential to everything the Mavs do on both ends (pushing off the defensive glass, ball-line defense that clogs the lane up and takes away both penetration off the dribble and post feed). Interestingly, Cross brought Erick Neal off the bench on Saturday against ULM, and the outstanding JR point guard has seen a slight reduction in minutes. I mentioned it earlier, but UTA has played the easiest SBC schedule to date, and they didn’t go through unscathed (one loss came without Hervey though). The Mavs still have to travel to the Georgia schools (without a return trip to Arlington), and the Louisiana schools. They’ll host a ULL team they match up fairly well with tonight, as the Cajuns are aggressive on the offense glass, which means you can beat them routinely in transition if you have can rebound, and the Mavs certainly can with Bilbao and a healthy Hervey. The ball line defense also limits ULL’s looks at the rim and ideally turns them into jump shooters, which isn’t ideal for the transition and north/south attacking reliant Cajuns, who really only have two shooters in Bartley and the freshman Hardy, who can doesn’t really fit quite yet with Bob Marlin’s pressure defense.

Georgia State is perhaps the league’s most athletic team (really only challenged by UTA in that regard), and they appear to be figuring some things out offensively. Unfortunately, in a guard driven league, Ron Hunter’s souped up matchup zone can be shredded when they run into the wrong backcourt (see Georgia Southern, see Troy). The Panthers are loaded with long, versatile wings like Jeremy Hollowell, and the addition of a hopefully now healthy D’Marcus Simonds is a game changer for the offense, as he’s a relentless attacker. the issue for Hunter is once again his lack of a consistent PG. The Isaiahs are good defensively and capable of running the offense (especially a healthy Williams), and Jeff Thomas has been interesting in the role of something of a point/forward at times, especially in zone offense. If the point guard play remains steady like it has been against lesser SBC competition, the Panthers are certainly more than capable of making a March run in New Orleans. GSU hosts Appalachian State tonight, a team that can struggle to run their Davidson-esque motion offense against the aggressive, lengthy zone and are entirely reliant on offense from Ronshad Shabazz, who doesn’t enjoy the length advantage on the perimeter that he has against most SBC teams when he plays GSU. App State’s perimeter is also really porous against dribble penetration, and that’s going to be a major factor tonight as well, especially with their best perimeter defender currently on the shelf.

TIER 2: ARKANSAS STATE and LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE

Arkansas State’s backcourt will allow them to compete with anyone, but their total lack of a frontcourt is going to be their undoing more often than not (although Tamas Bruce is coming off his best game of the season against Troy, who also doesn’t really have a frontcourt). In his first season at the helm, Grant McCasland has a lot of length and athleticism on the perimeter with 6’4 Donte Thomas running the point, 6’4 lethal shooter Devin Carter, and 6’4 defensive stopper Deven Simms. Unfortunately with the lack of height, Carter, Simms, and even CJ Foster are often playing out of position at the 3 and 4. McCasland will stick to an aggressive man to man with all the length on the perimeter, and that same length can be aggressive attacking the rim, but they’re vulnerable in the paint and in their transition defense. ASU has South Alabama tonight, who really has some offensive issues, in that they can’t shoot, can’t score efficiently in the paint, and they lack a point guard.

I mentioned ULL early, and I’m most interested to see if they can hold up for the remaining two-thirds of the season given Bob Marlin’s penchant for pushing in transition but also their total lack of depth in both the backcourt and frontcourt. Jay Wright essentially doesn’t sit, and it was a blessing in disguise of sorts that he got in foul trouble vs Georgia St and was forced to rest. The Cajuns are so susceptible to zones (which you see a lot in the SBC, especially from the top tier), that it’s hard to see them truly competing for the title come tournament time.

TIER 3: COASTAL CAROLINA, TROY, and TEXAS STATE

Troy is the most likely team to make a leap up in tiers as the season progresses, as they currently have the league’s best offense with Wesley Person, Jeremy Hollimon, and Jordon Varnado all capable of filling it up at the 2/3/4 respectively, and the addition of Kevin Baker at the point. Phil Cunningham has made a conscious decision to try to outscore teams by inserting floor stretch Juan Davis into the starting lineup, limiting the minutes of the more defensive oriented Alex Hicks. We’ll see how that plays out, but if you’re allowing Texas State to post 1.17ppp on your home floor, that’s a seriously porous defense. The Trojans are at Little Rock today, who have their own issues under first year coach Wes Flanagan. Flanagan has tried to be more aggressive on the defensive end of late, especially on the perimeter, by inserting Burns and Billings into the starting lineup, but they’re going to struggle until Lis Shoshi can return to the lineup. Shoshi is a skilled offensive player out of the high post, one of the best rebounders in the league, and an adequate defender. Their dominance over USA on Saturday was more telling of where the Jags are at right now. Little Rock’s three wins in league play have come against the league’s three worst teams, who have combined for 3 total wins.

Coastal first year in the SBC has gone about as suspected. They’re a high variance team given Cliff Ellis’ reliance on junk zones defensively and the three offensively. If they’re cold from outside offensively and their opponent is hitting, they’re ripe to get blown out in any given game (see Saturday). That all makes Coastal a bit of a wild card come March. The return of Shivaughn Wiggins is significant, as his penetration on the ball really opens up the floor for Elijah Wilson and gives Ellis a dual PG look with Jaylen Shaw. The frontcourt is actually fairly solid if unspectacular with Bamba and Beck, and the team rebounds well on both ends, but their transition defense is quite suspect.

There’s no questioning what you’re going to get with Danny Kaspar and Texas State defensively. They’re an aggressive man to man squad that can switch on every ball screen and pressure the ball handler. Offensively though, it’s pretty much the opposite. Kaspar installed a new motion offense, but essentially it all comes down to whether or not Kavin Gilder-Tilbury and FR Nijal Pearson are hitting shots. There’s literally no offensive production outside of those two on the wing. The Bobcats host a UL Monroe team tonight that has even bigger offensive issues though (especially away from Fant-Ewing), with a total lack of shot makers around SR PG Nick Coppola.

TIER 4: LITTLE ROCK, SOUTH ALABAMA, APPALACHIAN STATE, and UL  MONROE

All of these teams should be thankful that Coastal joined the league, otherwise they’d be fighting to make the tournament field this year.

SUN BELT ATS PREDICTIONS: Georgia State -9, Coastal Carolina +5.5, Troy +3., Arkansas State -8.5, UT Arlington -5.5, Texas State -6.5

SEASON PREDICTIONS: 1137-951-41, 210-183-13

Holy Cross -7.5 (Interesting one in the Patriot League, and it’s on CBSSN. The Crusaders have lost a remarkable 8 in a row to Mike Brennan’s American Eagles, but I think this one comes down to experience vs two difficult to manage defenses. You have FR Sa’eed Nelson (a phenomenal talent for the PL) facing the aggressive 1-3-1 of Bill Carmody for the first time, and the Eagles as a team can’t shoot either. Meanwhile, Anthony Thompson, Pat Benzan, and Karl Charles are well familiar with Brennan’s aggressive man to man pressure. Questions for the Crusaders are: is Champion 100%? can they find offensive outside of the 3, because that’s awfully tough to come by against the American press. Ultimately, I think the younger Eagles struggle more against the morphing 1-3-1.)

Iona -10

St. Peter’s -4

Canisius -4.5

Oklahoma State -4.5

Cleveland State +6.5

NC State +16.5

Gonzaga -23.5 (Only question is if there’s enough possessions and if the Zags want to finish out a blowout strong. NWG got banged up late on Saturday in a blowout, which might have scared Mark Few a bit. Porter is going to slow the game down to a crawl on his end without Wintering.)

Texas Southern -12.5 (TSU can handle the MVSU pressure, and if you do that, MVSU can’t set up their zone, which TSU can struggle against. MVSU more lethal offensively with Marcus Romain back.)

Texas -2

 

1/22 Sunday Thoughts

22 Jan

PREDICTIONS: 1127-944-41, 210-183-13

Seton Hall -8.5

Youngstown St +4.5

Ohio St PK

George Mason +6

 

ETSU -11

Siena -2

Monmouth -12.5

Georgetown +9

VCU -7

St. Louis +23

Oakland -3

Valpo -12.5

Memphis -4.5

UConn -10.5

Clemson -6

Arizona St +8.5

1/21 Saturday Thoughts

21 Jan

PREDICTIONS: 1072-896-40, 204-177-13

Belmont -13.5

Florida -12.5

Texas A&M -4.5

Penn St +13

Providence +17

Rutgers +2

 

Notre Dame -7

UNC -18

UMass -9

 

IUPUI -4

Tulsa -6

Central Michigan -7.5

Mercer -7

Niagara +9.5

Oklahoma -1

Texas Tech -5.5

Texas +16.5

NC State -1

Virginia -17.5

Harvard -13.5

Butler -11.5

Delaware +5.5

Louisville +3

Coastal Carolina +8

Michigan -8

Buffalo -5.5

Marquette +5.5

Bowling Green +2.5

Rhode Island -8.5

NDSU -3

North Dakota -12.5

 

Bradley +12

Wichita St -19.5

Ole Miss -2

Furman -14.5

Oral Roberts -1.5

Michigan St +4.5

Santa Clara -4.5

Colorado -5

Northeastern -1

Drexel +17

Cincinnati -16.5

Loyola Chicago -8.5

Arizona +6

Alabama PK

 

C of C -7.5 (UPDATE No Yo Dalembert, which is huge and would force me to flip to C of C)

Eastern Washington -14

Northern Illinois -1.5

Minnesota +4

Samford +10

UNCG -13

Rice -10 (UPDATE: As suspected, Price is indeed out)

Boise St -6

Georgia Southern -9

Eastern Illinois +1

 

Fort Wayne -4

 

UT Arlington -14

SMU -9

Air Force +3

BYU -8

Tennessee -4.5

Oregon -14

Nevada -6.5

Marshall -9

West Virginia -3

Kentucky -14 (UPDATE: Per Cloninger, Dozier out. Have to flip to UK with Gravett/Felder running point vs press)

 

SIUE +9

Rider -8.5

Louisiana Tech -16.5

 

FAU +11.5

South Alabama +6

Penn +3.5

Kent St -1.5

UCSB +4.5

Elon -3.5

UAB -5

Columbia -5.5

Austin Peay +4.5

Eastern Kentucky +8.5

Old Dominion -1

Southern Illinois -2.5

Washington +3

Wyoming +7.5

Illinois St -18

Baylor -2.5

Troy +5.5

 

Gonzaga -27.5 (Awful seeing UP lose Alec Wintering for the year)

Miami FL +10

Tennessee St -4

 

Arkansas -13

Weber State -5.5

San Diego +3.5 (Sorry, this turned out to be a total dud with Carter out. Was told by radio guy he was most likely a go)

Colorado St +3.5

UTEP -2.5

Idaho -13.5

LBSU -2

UC Irvine -4.5 (Nelson status? Eater romp if he plays)

Montana St +6.5

Montana -6

Cal -12.5

St. Mary’s -23

UC Davis +2

1/20 Friday Thoughts

20 Jan

PREDICTIONS: 1069-890-40, 204-175-13

Eastern Michigan +6 (Akron can certainly shoot their way out of the Murphy zone, but concerned (on both ends) about the lack of height and athleticism in the Zips’ backcourt vs the long EMU backcourt, especially with Bond involved so much at the top. Thompson vs Big Dog a great battle in the paint.)

Detroit +7 (Titans clearly enjoying new full court press defense and Wright State’s issues stem from the lack of a PG (and Alstork’s shooting issues/confidence lull). Hogan should also bully his way to the rim against a soft WSU interior, assuming he stays out of foul trouble.)

Canisius -2.5 (Griffs off tough home loss to Monmouth in their biggest MAAC game of the year, but both teams essentially accomplished what they looked to accomplish in first meeting. Quinnipiac got their offensive boards, Griffs terrorized young Bobcat backcourt with zone pressure. Should be more of the same.)

Iona -8 (Gaels rounding into form. They dominated Manhattan in the 2H last time out and didn’t even get much from Washington who was saddled with fouls. First meeting with the Stags saw the Gaels without Much and a limited Casimir. Different Iona team this time around. Looks like Johnson wants to run again with smaller lineup with Jerry Johnson starting, but Dunne didn’t allowed in SPU game. You can run on Iona, but there’s definitely no way Fairfield is going to slow down Washington with a smaller lineup. That lineup surrendered 28 and 9 to Washington in first meeting.)

Monmouth -12.5 (Jaspers are bad in transition, can’t stop turning the ball over, and can’t shoot. All bad things against transition reliant, ball line defense predicated Monmouth. That said, King Rice has struggled with Masiello, but Hawks admitted they weren’t prepared for Manhattan’s physicality, and that changed in 2nd meeting. Have to think Rich Williams is taking a redshirt at this point.)

Oakland -1.5 (Both Oakland and NKU come in reeling, and OU has been terrible since the win at Valpo. Not sure if it’s Brock’s injury (game time decision, and he wasn’t a factor in first meeting anyway) or what, but Grizz simply don’t look like the same team. Fortunately, NKU is a good matchup for them because the Norse are jump shot and offensive glass reliant. That’s exactly the recipe that OU’s transition offense relies on. Week off for NKU to reset though.) UPDATE: Brock playing, but PG Stevie Clark out per pregame audio.With Clark out, would have to switch to NKU, or at least take them in 2H with that knowledge

Green Bay -11 (Not much to say about YSU at this point. Morse or bust, and the Phoenix have guys who can make it tough on him and stay in his jersey all night. Kanter only played 8 min in first meeting (was nursing a nagging injury and Phoenix didn’t need him in a blowout), but he should contribute to Green Bay offense getting whatever they want at the rim.)

Brown +7.5 (Hesitant here. Brown’s spread pnr offense can space the floor well, but Yale has so much length and versatility that they can switch effectively on every one of those screens. Dallier should be back for Yale, who held their own without him at Jadwin. Can go either way here.)

Cleveland St +1.5 (While I like Haas, Bell, and Nze, Milwaukee is too young and inconsistent in those key positions for me to have any faith here. Wings can’t defend Edwards or even Word for that matter really.)

 

1/19 Thursday Thoughts

19 Jan

PREDICTIONS: 1047-868-40, 202-170-13

UNCG -5.5

 

ETSU -3.5

Wofford -12

Western Carolina PK

 

Davidson +2.5

James Madison +6.5

C of C +3.5

Hofstra -3.5

 

Elon -7

UConn +11

Dayton -12.5

Iowa -1

Northeastern -8.5

 

SIUE +6.5 (No Calvin tonight)

Rice +5.5

USM -2

St. Peter’s -3.5

NDSU -1.5

Tennessee St -10

Eastern Illinois +5

Austin Peay +3

Murray St -8.5

Weber St -1

 

Jacksonville St +9.5

 

FAU +7

UNCA +4.5

Idaho St +7.5

Clemson +5.5

Oregon -9.5

USC +4

Memphis +6.5

BYU -17.5

NAU +13.5

Idaho -11

San Francisco -9

San Diego +6.5

Montana -2

Montana St -1

LBSU -8

Gonzaga -12.5

UCLA -19.5

Oregon St +6.5

St. Mary’s -21.5

 

1/18 Wednesday Thoughts

18 Jan

PREDICTIONS: 1034-851-38, 200-168-12

Florida +2

IUPUI -7

 

Oklahoma +16.5

 

FSU -5.5

Indiana -3 (Even with Morgan out)

Alabama -13.5

St. Joe’s +6.5

Duquesne +8.5

Temple +12

VCU -10.5

Indiana St -1

Tulane +10.5

 

TCU +4

Omaha -4

Oral Roberts -2.5

Virginia -14

Miami FL -1.5

Drake +3

Northern Iowa -3.5

Auburn -8.5

Kansas St +3

Virginia Tech -12

Nebraska -2

Illinois St -11

 

Washington St +9.5

Nevada -11

 

SJSU +1

UC Irvine -6.5

UC Riverside +7

Colorado +2

Colorado St +5

Hawaii -2.5