College basketball schedule today has 40 games
More conference tournaments start today with the Horizon League, Sun Belt and Patriot League as we look at a solid, but unspectacular Tuesday in college hoops. The best game of the night features San Diego State and Boise State, but Arkansas vs. Tennessee and some of the other major conference games look very interesting. (Tracking sheet)
I recorded the latest VSiN College Basketball Betting Podcast last night with Tim Murray talking about the Tuesday slate and conference tournament betting strategies, so give that a listen.
I’m also monitoring a bunch of Spring Training injuries while writing my MLB team previews, which we’ll likely start to post on Mar. 6.
Here are some thoughts on the February 28 card (odds from DraftKings):
Villanova is absolutely a changed team with senior guard Justin Moore back, as evidenced by the way that the betting market has been treating them. After dropping the first three games of his return, Villanova has won five of the last six, with a rare defensive debacle against Providence mixed in. One of those games was a 58-54 win over Seton Hall and I would expect Villanova to come away with another victory here.
I’m not sure people realize how awful this Seton Hall offense has been. Despite getting to the rim at a high rate, the Pirates rank 257th in 2P% at 48.4%, 284th in eFG% offense at 48.4% and are also one of the nation’s worst free throw shooting teams. They’re also only shooting 32.1% from 3, which is a big problem against a Villanova defense that has forced opponents into a 3 on nearly 42% of shot attempts.
The Wildcats have allowed a shot share on Close Twos of 28.3%, which ranks seventh in the nation. Seton Hall is second in the country in shot share on Close Twos at 47.3%, but is only shooting 54.3% on those shots and has one of the highest Block% rates at the rim in the country. This is a terrible offense, despite getting to the rim a lot, and Villanova’s top defensive strength is preventing those high-percentage looks.
I’ll ride the Villanova wave with a team trending up as opposed to a Seton Hall bunch that has lost four of five and hasn’t had at least a point per possession in the last six games.
Pick: Villanova -1.5
A long, arduous season for IUPUI likely wraps up today against Robert Morris. The Jaguars actually split during the regular season with the Colonials, making up one of their two Horizon League wins. They lost by seven on the road on Jan. 7 and won at home on Feb. 23. Between the two games, IUPUI was 33-of-55 on Close Twos, so they got inside and were pretty successful offensively, especially relative to their other games.
The Jaguars also pulled down 21 offensive rebounds with five more than Robert Morris. It seems like maybe this isn’t a great matchup for the Colonials. Robert Morris’s 1.091 and 1.063 PPP were some of the lower performances against IUPUI. On the flip side, the Jaguars had .992 PPP in the loss and 1.148 PPP in the win. They’ve been a better offensive team since Jan. 19 with at least 1 PPP in all but three of those games. They had .974 and .996 PPP in two of those games where they fell short.
The concern with any underdog in a conference tournament is when they stop fouling. The first two games were both played to 71 possessions and that was an above average pace relative to what the two teams have done this season. All in all, I just don’t think 14.5 is fair number when Robert Morris hasn’t been dominant in this head-to-head season series.
Pick: IUPUI +14.5
DraftKings has one of the few 3s in the market here, as most of the board is showing 3.5 for this America East Conference battle. This was a great matchup for Bryant back on Feb. 1 in an 18-point win and I’m expecting something relatively similar here. Bryant was 21-of-28 at the rim in the first meeting, while Maine was just 7-of-11. That is a big part of this handicap because Bryant has a 45.1% shot share at the rim, which ranks ninth in the nation and Maine is 336th in the nation in FG% on Close Twos at 64.1%.
Maine is also 273rd in shot share against on Close Twos at 38.9%, so they do allow teams to get to the rim. That is something Bryant did very effectively in the first game. The Bulldogs also won by 18 despite going just 5-of-23 on 3-point shots. They had a big edge on the offensive glass, which should happen again. They also like to push the tempo and Maine isn’t good enough offensively or defensively to keep up.
Bryant is also only allowing a shot share of 32.9% on Close Twos, which ranks 67th. Maine is an okay team from deep, but no better than Bryant. The Bulldogs should have a big edge in the shot selection department and this is a really strong matchup for them. Because most of the market is -3 (-115) or -3.5, I’ll grade it at -3.5, but find a 3 at -110 if you can.
Pick: Bryant -3.5
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