College basketball schedule today has 31 games
We go from 13 games on Monday to 31 games on Tuesday as it is officially college basketball season for some. The college football season has wrapped up with Georgia’s emphatic 65-7 win, though I guess it isn’t too early to start looking ahead to next year’s National Championship odds.
Several good games are on the board tonight and hopefully we get some thrillers to get more people engaged with college hoops, as we’re about seven weeks away from conference tournaments and a couple weeks beyond that until March Madness.
JVT broke down seven games today with his NBA best bets and Andy MacNeil’s new-look NHL picks column tackled a big slate on the ice, so make sure you check out what my pals and colleagues have to say.
Here are some thoughts on the January 10 card (odds from DraftKings):
The Bulls have been very inconsistent this season, but they’ve had two good performances in MAC play thus far with home wins over Ohio and Northern Illinois. Now they’re on the road as a two-possession favorite against a Miami bunch that has one of the worst defenses in Division I. For a Buffalo team that wants to push the pace, this should be a good opportunity to keep the offensive momentum rolling.
Give Buffalo credit, as the Bulls challenged themselves a bit in nonconference play. Per Ken Pomeroy, the Bulls have played the 80th-ranked strength of schedule, with the 76th-ranked slate of opposing offenses and 81st-ranked slate of defenses. They get the 348th-ranked defense tonight in the RedHawks, who have played the 212th-ranked schedule in the country. They’ve played the 223rd-ranked slate of offenses and have still been as bad as they have.
Opponents are shooting 38.7% on 3s and 55.1% on 2s against the RedHawks, which rank 347th and 327th, respectively, against Division I opponents. To make matters worse, Miami turns the ball over on nearly 21% of their possessions, so they expose a bad defense even more. Against a better Northern Illinois defense last time out, Buffalo had 1.186 points per possession. I’d expect that or better tonight, allowing them to cover the 3.5 in Oxford.
Pick: Buffalo -3.5
If the rematch between Belmont and Valpo goes differently than the first game, I’ll tip my cap to the Beacons and accept defeat. In looking at this game, I’m not sure why it would. Belmont won by 12 back on December 1. As you would expect, Belmont scored by 3s and Valpo scored by 2s, as the Bruins made 15 3-pointers to Valparaiso’s two made treys. The Bruins are sixth in the nation against D-I opponents in 3P% at 40.2%, while Valpo is 345th at 28.5%.
But, the reason why I really like Belmont here is that the Bruins only forced six turnovers in that game and still won by 12. Belmont has turned opponents over on over 20% of possessions and the game against Valpo remains the only one in which they had a TO% under 15.3%. Valparaiso is one of the worst teams in the nation at forcing turnovers, so Belmont should get extra possessions tonight.
The Bruins have held each of their last five opponents to well under 1 PPP, so they’ve figured some things out defensively after a bit of a rocky start to the year. In six conference games, Valpo has allowed at least 1 PPP in every one of them and has only had over 1 PPP on offense once. Kudos to them if they keep it close, but this just looks like a mismatch.
Pick: Belmont -5
The Sooners will look to build off of a nice overtime road win with a trip to Lawrence to take on the Jayhawks. Oklahoma plays at a very slow pace, which has allowed them to keep four of their five losses close, falling by 1, 4, 10, 1 and 3 points this season. The 10-point loss was a neutral-site game against Arkansas in which Oklahoma had 1.136 points per possession, but allowed a season-high 1.282 PPP.
Kansas is an excellent team, but there have been some close wins against good teams, including a five-point win over Duke, a six-point win over NC State, a one-point win over Wisconsin, a two-point win over Oklahoma State and a three-point win over Texas Tech. Oklahoma’s deliberate offensive style will force Kansas to defend most of the shot clock, while the Sooners’ defensive prowess should slow down the Jayhawks. Oklahoma is sixth in 3P% defense and a top-30 defensive rebounding team.
The Sooners are also in the top-25 in 2P% and 3P%, even though they’ve faced the fifth-toughest slate of opposing defenses. There is a clear gap between these two teams, but I don’t think the gap is this big, especially with a total on the decline and a slower pace. Kansas’s last four games have all been 69 or fewer possessions after eight of their first 11 games were 69 or more possessions. They’ve slowed down a little in conference play and that should also help Oklahoma keep this one close.
Pick: Oklahoma +10.5
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