3/28 NIT Semifinal Notes

28 Mar

Season Predictions: 2049-1854-89, 403-338-19

NCAA Tournament: 32-26-2, 13-10-1

CSUB and Georgia Tech should be a brutal slugfest. Per hoop-math.com, CSUB allows the third lowest FG% at the rim in the country, while Tech is tenth nationally in that category. Easy buckets are going to be few and far between against a CSUB team that swarms the post as well as anyone in the country, and will extend pressure as well, denying penetration. Meanwhile Tech denies points at the rim more traditionally with their superior length and one of the best rim protectors in the country in Ben Lammers. Offensively, both teams have been punching above their weight. Tech had posted over 1ppp just twice since Jan 18 before this tournament, but they’ve scored 220 points in 210 possessions during this run. That’s not Earth shattering, but a steep increase for the ACC’s worst offense nonetheless (caveat emptor, they’ve played three mediocre defenses, none of which are close to the level of team defense CSUB employs). CSUB meanwhile has posted their three most efficient offensive games since a stretch in early January, and they’ve done it by looking like last year’s Villanova team in March in every 1H. It’s uncanny. The Runners literally can’t miss from 3 in the 1H in this tournament (and they shot just under 31% from 3 in WAC play), they build a massive lead, and then basically just take the air out of the ball in the 1H. While they have played better defenses in this tournament than Tech, they caught a Cal team who couldn’t have cared any less without Rabb and Bird and a coach out the door, and a worn down CSU team. I’ve mentioned it before during this tournament, CSUB is one of the oldest teams in the country, and one of the most cohesive I’ve seen this year. Defensively they open and close like a hand making a fist, swarming the interior and extending back out on the perimeter. If they shoot even close to how they have been during this tournament, they’ll be playing for the title.

TCU’s offense has been absurdly efficient the past two games, but Jamie Dixon’s back screen, down screen motion should run into some issues against UCF for a few reasons. 1) UCF is massive. They’re the biggest team in the country and these big teams in their own right like Colorado, ISU, and Illinois (and TCU is also one of the biggest teams in the country) just wear down against a team that goes from 6’5 to 7’6 at the two through five. 2) UCF’s defense not only holds opposing offenses to the second lowest FG% at the rim in the country, but Johnny Dawkins’ amoeba zone doesn’t even let you get the ball to the rim. TCU beat up some incredibly weak interior defenses in Iowa and Richmond. UCF is a 180 from those teams defensively, and the Frogs have to hit jump shot tonight.

Both teams really struggle with ball pressure, which shouldn’t be an issue tonight for either side. UCF is also an outstanding rebounding team, especially defensively, and the offensive glass has been a key for TCU this tournament. All that said, TCU’s ball movement is outstanding, and Kenrich Williams and Vlad Brodziansky’s ability to stretch the UCF defense in pnr and Williams’ passing ability in the high post is a major key for the Frogs tonight. They’ll force Tacko to move. Teams that have great ball movement and a skilled passing big that can work away from the paint have been the teams that UCF has struggled with.

PREDICTIONS: CSUB +2.5, TCU -2.5

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