College basketball schedule today has 13 games
Fridays are really light days in the college basketball world because of the massive cards that we get on Saturdays. We’ve got a good spread of conferences tonight, but only 13 games on the slate. We do have a really good game in Reno between Utah State and Nevada and a good tilt in the Ivy League between Yale and Cornell, two of the three best teams in the conference.
I’ll still have some thoughts, but fortunately, we’ve got a big card in the NBA with lots of happenings and news, so Jonathan Von Tobel is your man for the NBA best bets today write-up. There are only three games on the ice, but Andy MacNeil always delivers with his daily NHL tips article.
Here are some thoughts on the January 13 card (odds from DraftKings):
Some Western New York MAAC action starts us off today with Siena and Niagara. The Saints have a couple of key injuries to monitor, as second-leading scorer Javian McCollum (back) and senior wing player Jayce Johnson (knee) are both game-time decisions. Johnson has missed three straight games and McCollum missed the last game after leaving with two points in 14 minutes against Saint Peter’s. McCollum has averaged 16 points per game.
In a game likely to be played to a slow tempo, having all of your offensive pieces is important and I don’t believe Siena will have them tonight. Niagara is 355th in tempo per Ken Pomeroy. Siena is 192nd, but they’ve slowed down a bit now that they’re gotten into conference play with a lot of teams that play at average or lower tempos.
What struck me about this game is how both teams try to run opponents off of the 3-point line. Siena’s shot share against on 3s is just 26.4% according to Bart Torvik, while Niagara’s is 27.9%. The other thing that struck me is that Siena is shooting 48.5% on “Farther Twos”, a metric that basically looks at mid-range jumpers. I don’t find that to be a viable offensive strategy long-term, as those are often the toughest shots in basketball.
Niagara is a top-100 team in both 2P% and 3P% defense, but their offensive shortcomings (297th in adjusted offensive efficiency per Torvik and 285th per KenPom) should help a Siena defense that is below average. I like a low-scoring affair in this one. DraftKings shows 128, but most books have 128.5 available.
Pick: Under 128.5 (widely available)
This will be a pace war between two teams that play at completely different tempos. Akron is 297th in tempo per KenPom, while Eastern Michigan is 41st. I’m always struck by teams that are horrific on the defensive end, yet play at a high rate of possessions. The Eagles are 348th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency against the 220th-ranked slate of opponents, but they’re still willing to run.
The Zips are playing with more possessions lately, as they simply ran into some really slow teams early in the season like Mississippi State and Western Kentucky, while also wanting to keep some games close against nonconference opponents. They played a solid nonconference schedule that should prepare them well for MAC play. This is a game that they should absolutely win by margin.
Eastern Michigan is a really poor defensive team on 2s, as they rank 360th in the nation against Division I opponents. That is music to the ears of the Zips, who have struggled on interior shots. EMU allows opponents to finish at a 65.5% rate at the rim on Close Twos and also can’t defend the mid-range well. The Zips are vastly superior on the glass as well, so they should get some second-chance opportunities and also limit Eastern Michigan’s looks.
Akron should speed up a little bit and fall into Eastern Michigan’s pace, which will be to their benefit in this game because they are the better team on every possession.
Pick: Akron -13.5
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