We’ve got an enormous Saturday card on the board with more than 125 games. Finding some starting points for narrowing your focus is going to be essential because handicapping over 250 teams is a major time drain and a big challenge. Like I’ve been doing a lot lately, I’m using the first game as a guide to see what might happen in the second game and I’ve found some good ones today.
Towson (-3.5, 146) at Charleston - The total for this game is what interests me the most. Towson is a bottom-40 team in tempo, but Charleston leads the nation in adjusted tempo per Bart Torvik. The first game between these teams on Jan. 20 was played to 73 possessions, which is very quick for the Tigers. It is far and away the fastest regulation game in CAA play.
I don’t know if this game will be played at that same tempo, but something that likely won’t be repeated is a combined effort of 19-for-53 at the rim. The first game fell 141 with a total that opened 150 and got bet down to 147. The pace and the high-percentage shots were there, but the points were not. I feel like they might be today.
Middle Tennessee at FAU (-4, 137) - The first meeting between these two was a 70-57 win for MTSU on Jan. 13, with the Blue Raiders -4 at home. That game was a big offensive outlier for the Owls. Their 29% TO% is still their second-highest of the season, with the highest against a VCU team that ranks in the top five nationally in forcing turnovers. MTSU is in the top 50, but not on VCU’s level.
Because of the turnovers, FAU only had 44 field goal attempts to 65 for MTSU. Losing by 13 seems pretty justified in light of that. Some may wonder why FAU is such a clear favorite in this game, but I think they’re the right side. That first game was one of their worst offensive performances of the season with .869 PPP. Only the game against VCU was worse.
New Mexico State at Grand Canyon (-1, 134) - What a great game tonight in the WAC. The first meeting between these teams back on Jan. 29 had a fascinating box score. So much so that I’m not sure where to begin. I guess I’ll start with the fact that New Mexico State had 41 free throw attempts. Maybe most notably, NMSU only made 23 of them. Grand Canyon was 20-of-24 at the stripe, which is also notable because this is a team that ranks 338th in the nation in FT%.
The Aggies were 2-of-11 from 3, while the Antelopes were just 5-of-32. New Mexico State made as many free throws as field goals and Grand Canyon had 20 FT makes to 18 made shots. NMSU was -5 with a total of 134.5 in that one. The game stayed under, despite 65 free throw attempts. Both teams should shoot a bit better here, but these are two strong defensive teams. I think the under is the play here in what should be a great environment.