College basketball schedule today has 153 games
Happy Super Bowl Eve! We’ve got a fuller than full dance card in college basketball coming up for you on Saturday, as there are 153 games from Noon ET up through 11:59 p.m. ET with Hawaii hosting Cal State Fullerton to send us into Super Bowl Sunday. These massive cards are a real struggle, but the hope is that doing your due diligence up and down the card unveils some lines that are just not where they should be.
A quick note that I try to get this out as quickly as possible, but the time change and the volume of games just makes it too tough to get it out prior to the first tip-offs. I try to look at games that are no earlier than 2 p.m. ET and try my best to pick games even later than that.
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Here are some thoughts on the February 11 card (odds from DraftKings):
The outlook in this one is for a slow-paced game in the A-10 battle between Loyola Chicago and Richmond. When I look at slow-paced games and favorites of four or more possessions, I gravitate towards the underdog, especially when there are efficiency concerns for the favorite. Richmond does not make it easy on offense. They only take a Close Two on 30.8% of their shots. While they are very good at finishing them, they settle for a lot of jumpers instead.
Richmond has a 3P Rate of 44.8% and Loyola Chicago will let them take those shots. The Ramblers are right around league average in 3P% against. Loyola Chicago is 22nd in 2P% on offense and does a pretty good job of getting to the rim. They’re also about at the national average from 3, which is important against a Richmond team with a 41.1% 3P Rate against.
In looking at these two teams, the one glaring difference is that Loyola Chicago turns the ball over a ton, but Richmond isn’t an aggressive defense and hasn’t forced many turnovers this season. The Spiders are 286th in TO% on defense and 12th out of the 15 teams in conference in TO%.
As long as Loyola isn’t turning the ball over a ton, they should be able to keep this game close, especially with a pretty slow pace and some underrated offensive efficiency numbers.
Pick: Loyola Chicago +7.5
This is a massive pace war between Mississippi State and Arkansas, as the Bulldogs prefer the game to be as slow and ugly as possible, while the Razorbacks like to run a bit. Mississippi State’s defense does a really strong job of protecting the rim, holding opponents to a 29.6% shot share on Close Twos, which ranks inside the top 39 nationally. For an Arkansas team that wants to get to the rim, that seems problematic.
Arkansas does not want to take a lot of 3s this season because Eric Musselman just doesn’t have the shooters. Their 3P Rate is just 27.8%, but Mississippi State is really packing it in on defense and has forced teams to shoot a 3-pointer on 43.8% of shot attempts. To make matters worse, Arkansas is shooting 31% from 3 and Mississippi State is allowing opponents to shoot just 30.9% from deep.
Opponents have gotten inside on Arkansas. Their shot share against on Close Twos is 41%, but they rank in the top 25 in FG% on those shots. Hopefully Mississippi State fares well enough on the inside to score some points because I do like them to keep this game close. The Bulldogs force a lot of turnovers and pull down a lot of offensive rebounds. They should get some extra possessions here, which would allow them to slow this game closer to a tempo they are comfortable with and the total sort of implies that to be the case.
I’m not sure Arkansas’s offense will be efficient enough here to win this game by ample margin. The Bulldogs have kept it close and ugly on the road against Auburn and Alabama recently and I think they do the same here with the Razorbacks.
Pick: Mississippi State +6.5
These two teams played back on Jan. 14 and Eastern Washington had incredible success on offense. The Eagles were 25-of-33 at the rim, including seven dunks, and had 1.335 points per possession. This is an offense that has been simply spectacular en route to a 12-0 start in conference play, including the 95-74 win over Idaho a little under a month ago.
I see no reason to believe that this game goes differently. Idaho has allowed a 43.3% shot share on Close Twos, which ranks 348th in the nation. Clearly Eastern Washington took advantage of that in the first meeting. Idaho has been efficient at the rim on offense as well, but Eastern Washington is better about defending the tin. They force teams outside with a 44.1% 3P Rate against. The problem for Idaho is that they rank outside the top 200 in 3P%.
The Vandals have only allowed a 3P Rate of 30.5% this season, but opponents have made 38.6% of those 3s. Even if they adjust to pack it in a little more against Eastern Washington, the Eagles have no problem shooting 3s and should be able to make them against this Idaho defense.
This is just a mismatch from top to bottom. Idaho is a pathetic offensive rebounding team and doesn’t force turnovers, so I don’t see them getting extra possessions. They’re a bottom-10 defense against the 3 and a bottom-100 defense against 2s. Both teams have had a week off since their last games and Eastern Washington likes to push the pace a bit. With fresh legs, they can do that and this should be a lopsided win for the road team.
DraftKings has the market high price of 7.5 at time of publish, but you can find 7s widely available out there.
Pick: Eastern Washington -7 (widely available)
I’m hoping to pick on the other team in the Gem State by going against Idaho State as well. Montana State is a really strong team and there are a lot of things that they do that should work in their favor here. The first, as it always is for me, is shot selection. Montana State has a shot share of 39.4% on Close Twos and has finished off those attempts at a top-50 level. Idaho State, meanwhile, is 336th in shot share on Close Twos and 272nd in FG%.
The story is basically the same on defense as well. Idaho State has a shot share against of 40.3%, which ranks 315th and their FG% against on those shots ranks 342nd. On the flip side, Montana State is 189th in shot share against, but 32nd in FG% against. Montana State is going to dominate this game offensively and defensively at the rim. Montana State has 84 dunk attempts compared to just 16 for Idaho State.
Montana State won the first meeting by 13 and had 21 attempts at the rim compared to 13 for Idaho State. I think this game plays out in a similar way. Idaho State would be even worse offensively without a 46.3% FG% on mid-range jumpers, something that I really wouldn’t want to rely on long-term.
The Bobcats are also a 75% team at the free throw line, which is what helped them to that 13-point win the first time. I think they can do it again here.
Pick: Montana State -6.5
I’ve had Cal State Bakersfield on my fade list for a while now, but I’ve finally found a good spot to go against the Roadrunners. Their offensive strategy is not conducive to being efficient and they’ve run so good over their last three games that regression is coming and it should come in a pretty big way. I’m hoping this is the spot.
The Roadrunners are shooting a mid-range jumper 47.3% of the time. It makes sense that they are a bottom-15 offense in 2P% this season. They’re only shooting a Close Two on 28.7% of shot attempts, which ranks 354th in the nation. Most teams that fail to get to the rim shoot a lot of 3s. Bakersfield’s 24% 3P Rate is 362nd in the country.
Ironically, the team that is 363rd is Long Beach State, but they get to the rim a lot more. The three highest teams in shot share on Close Twos in the Big West are UC Davis, Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara. Bakersfield is 0-4 against UCD and UCSB by an average losing margin of 17.5 points per game. This will be their first game against Long Beach State. The Beach are also bringing a top-15 offensive rebounding percentage into this game.
Also, this will be a pace war. LBSU is one of the fastest teams in the country and Bakersfield is one of the slowest. I would expect Long Beach to speed this game up a bit. The Roadrunners turn it over almost 20% of the time, which will allow the Beach to get out in transition. Long Beach State may need to knock down a few more 3s than usual, but the other teams got to the rim with success and I think LBSU does here as well.
Pick: Long Beach State -6
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