College basketball schedule today has 25 games
We’re light on quantity, but high on quality for the Tuesday night college hoops slate. There are only seven more games than there were on Monday night, but we’ve swapped out the SWAC and MEAC for better conferences. Tennessee vs. Texas A&M and Baylor vs. Kansas State are the biggest games and ones I talked about with Tim Murray on the latest edition of the VSiN College Basketball Betting Podcast.
I know the primary focus here is college hoops, but I’m also working on my upcoming MLB Guide and newsletter subscribers may have noticed that I’ll have an MLB podcast beginning next month as well. I’ve also been tasked with writing 10 conference tournament previews and this year’s March Madness Guide, so you’ll be reading and hearing a lot of me over the next several weeks. (Tracking sheet)
Here are some thoughts on the February 21 card (odds from DraftKings):
The Spiders take the floor for the first time without head coach Chris Mooney, who is undergoing surgery to remove an aneurysm from his aorta. Richmond grad Peter Thomas takes over in his place. He left the program as the Director of Basketball Operations from 2008-13 for an assistant job at Campbell and made his way back for this season. Perhaps this situation brings Richmond together, but I just think Saint Louis is the better team.
The Billikens have an exceptional floor general in Yuri Collins, who is averaging nearly 10 assists per game. They take care of the basketball well and share it, ranking 32nd in the nation in assist rate. Richmond generally does a good job keeping guys away from the rim, but the Billikens get there at a 40.7% clip, which is 10% higher than Richmond, who is very dependent on the 3-point shot.
Richmond is shooting a 3 on 44.4% of shot attempts and only shooting 33.5% for the season and just 30% in A-10 play. Saint Louis is shooting 3s at a 34.5% success rate, but doesn’t take a lot of them. They may have to tonight against Richmond given their defensive strategy, but this league doesn’t have a lot of teams that get to the rim at a high rate. VCU is first, followed by Saint Louis and then UMass. Richmond lost by 12 to crosstown rival VCU and also lost to UMass by nine. Those two teams combined to go 21-of-33 at the rim.
In a coin flip spot, give me the better team.
Pick: Saint Louis PK
I spent a good chunk of time this morning trying to figure out why the first meeting between these two was such a crazy outlier. Nevada won by 27 at San Jose State back on Jan. 7. In that game, Nevada had 14 offensive rebounds compared to five for the Spartans. The Wolf Pack were 14-of-24 at the rim, while San Jose State was just 8-of-13. The Spartans also turned the ball over 20 times and their 30.8% TO% is still their highest in conference play and third-highest of the season, trailing games against North Texas and Pacific.
Nevada does a decent job forcing turnovers, but the Wolf Pack are hardly elite at it. Nevada is 333rd in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, while San Jose State is a top-20 team per Bart Torvik in both offensive rebounding percentage for and against. San Jose State’s shot share on Close Twos is 40.3%, while Nevada’s is 30.1%. None of the stats from the first meeting seem to jive with the full bodies of work for these two teams.
With that in mind, a nine-point spread is a lot, particularly when San Jose State plays at a bottom-20 tempo. Nevada doesn’t exactly run the floor either. Tim Miles is a good head coach and the Spartans have bounced back from every other embarrassing loss this season with a strong effort. I expect the same here.
Pick: San Jose State +9
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