College basketball schedule today has 74 games
From 47 games on Wednesday to 74 games on Thursday, as we see a big uptick in games. Marquee matchups are few and far between, though the Conference USA clash between Florida Atlantic and UAB is a hell of a game to highlight the night.
I’ll be guest co-hosting VSiN Final Countdown with Matt Brown today in place of the great Stormy Buonantony, so tune in for that, as we’ll talk about some college basketball and some important betting tips at this time of the year. Yeah, we’ll probably mention that game coming up on Feb. 12 as well. For now, let’s dig into the hoops card. Here’s the tracking sheet for the season.
Andy MacNeil gets some well-deserved days off with the NHL All-Star Break, but Jonathan Von Tobel has today's NBA best bets for you.
Here are some thoughts on the February 2 card (odds from DraftKings):
We’ve got a 7 p.m. ET tip in the SoCon tonight between UNC Greensboro and Mercer. The first game was ugly, but effective for UNCG, as they came away with a 59-48 win back on Jan. 21. The shot selection difference in that game was really telling and a big reason why I think Mercer is going to struggle once again.
UNC Greensboro was 16-of-27 at the rim, including four dunks in that matchup. Mercer had just 14 attempts at the rim and zero dunks. Instead, the Bears settled for 32 (!!) mid-range jumpers and made just 12 of them. The Spartans play in a conference where a lot of teams shoot 3s, but that’s part of their defensive style, as they force opponents into a 3 on 41.3% of shot attempts. Mercer doesn’t like to shoot them, posting a shot share of just 28.1%.
Mercer does shoot a lot of mid-range jumpers, which explains why they are a pretty inefficient offense. Meanwhile, Greensboro gets to the rim at a better than average rate and also takes a reasonable amount of 3s. Additionally, the Spartans are one of the best teams at forcing opponents away from the basket, posting a shot share of 28.1% against on Close Twos, which is the 10th-best in the nation.
Mercer was 3-of-11 on free throws in the first game, but UNC Greensboro was only 11-of-21, so both teams left points at the line. The Spartans also have a 20.5% TO% on defense, so they should get some extra possessions out of what should be a slow-paced game. I don’t really see Mercer having much more success on offense here and -3 is a small price to lay for UNCG on the road, especially as they look to bounce back from a loss to Furman.
Pick: UNC Greensboro -3
I stared at this game for a long time trying to figure out why the line was so low. Pacific beat Pepperdine 80-75 back on Jan. 7 in a road setting and there weren’t any big outliers in the game. In fact, there are some things I expect to go more in Pacific’s favor in this game that should propel them to another victory.
Pacific has a shot share on Close Twos of 43%, which ranks 22nd in the nation, but the Tigers are 320th in FG% on those types of shots. That seems like a good area for positive regression and it could come against a Pepperdine team that ranks 358th in shot share against on Close Twos. Pacific is 354th in shot share against on Close Twos, but Pepperdine is 259th in offensive shot share on Close Twos, so it’s a much bigger part of Pacific’s offensive strategy than Pepperdine’s.
Pacific also draws a Pepperdine defense that ranks 314th in 3P% against. The Tigers are shooting 38.4% on 3s, which ranks 16th in the nation. In the first game, Pepperdine had seven more free throw attempts and seven more makes. The Waves were 15-of-29 at the rim compared to 12-of-23 for the Tigers. Pepperdine had more offensive rebounds and only two more turnovers. Yet, Pacific went on the road and won. I think that bodes well for the Tigers in tonight’s matchup.
Pick: Pacific -1
To the Southland Conference we go for this matchup between Northwestern State and Houston Christian. The Demons and the Christians. Seems like an interesting one to say the least, but one that clearly favors the road team in my estimation. These teams just played a week ago and I got very close to laying a double-digit number with Northwestern State. They covered the 12-point spread in an 82-63 win.
Northwestern State trailed 2-0 and never trailed again, leading by as many as 25 in the second half and I don’t think the game went as well for them as I expected. First, Northwestern State has a 21.3% TO% on defense (50th) and Houston Christian has a 22.1 TO% on offense (336th). Houston Christian only had 11 turnovers to 10 for Northwestern State. I’d expect the Demons to get a few extra possessions in tonight’s game.
It was also interesting to see both teams go 15-of-24 at the rim. Houston Christian’s shot share against on Close Twos of 44.2% is the fifth-highest in the nation. That hasn’t been a huge part of Northwestern State’s offense with a shot share of just 30.2%, but the chances are there. Instead, Northwestern State took a lot of 3s and went 13-of-33 on them. Houston Christian has allowed opponents to shoot 37.5% on 3s, so Northwestern State tried to take advantage. They actually outscored HCU 39-6 on made 3s in the game, which more than made up for the Huskies having a 37-5 edge in free throw attempts and a 25-3 edge in making them.
I’m not sure why this game would go differently for Houston Christian. In fact, I’d expect more turnovers from them. I’d expect Northwestern State to have edges on the offensive glass and on 3-pointers again. You’ll see this game lined at either 6.5 or 7 out there. Find a 6.5 if you can. They’re out there for the taking, including DraftKings.
Pick: Northwestern State -6.5
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