The Month of Madness is here! March is the best time of year for college basketball, not just for the NCAA Tournament, but for conference tournaments as well. I’ll have another article with some short conference tourney blurbs today for the Big South, Sun Belt, WCC and MVC coming later this morning.
For now, let’s look at some interesting college basketball rematches for Tuesday.
Toledo Rockets at Buffalo Bulls (-2, 160) - Let’s start with what stands out the most and it is that Buffalo is favored at home. Toledo is 23-6 overall, 15-3 in MAC play and the only team in the conference in the top 100 for both Ken Pom and Bart Torvik. In the first meeting on Jan. 25, Toledo won 86-75 as a 4.5-point favorite with a total of 157.
As Buffalo tried to extend the game, Toledo mounted a huge free throw edge with 32 attempts to 15 and 25 makes to 12, so that 13-point difference was big. Buffalo was just 12-of-32 on shots at the rim. For a team shooting 58% on “Close Twos” as defined by Torvik, that was a shockingly bad performance. Toledo also scored 86 points on 76 possessions while shooting just 3-of-12 from 3. I lean Buffalo, as the line speaks volumes, but I also think over 160 is the way to go.
Providence Friars at Villanova Wildcats (-9.5, 134.5) - There are two ways to look at the first meeting back on Feb. 15. It was an 89-84 win for Villanova in a game played to 72 possessions, so both teams had big offensive success with 1.235 and 1.165 points per possessions, respectively. Providence scored 84 points while only shooting 5-of-23 from 3. Villanova shot 11-of-23, so the fact that Providence kept it close while being -18 beyond the arc is impressive.
On the other hand, the teams had 39 combined points at the free throw line and the game featured 43 personal fouls. Villanova was -4 on the road with a total of 132 in the first game, so we’ve seen a mild adjustment with the total. I think Providence is the right side here, given their high frequency of shots at the rim and offensive rebounding edge in the first game, but I do wonder if we get a lower-scoring game this time around.
Southern Utah Thunderbirds at Montana State Bobcats (-3.5, 147) - These two teams just played back on Feb. 19. Southern Utah was -3 with a total of 147. The Bobcats won 76-71, so the game fell right on the total, but the road underdog pulled the upset. Montana State won the game despite 17 turnovers. The 24.3% TO% was Montana State’s second-highest rate of the season, but the Bobcats still prevailed and were only 4-of-12 from 3, so it wasn’t like they outshot their problems. I think they’re the right side tonight.