College basketball schedule today has 61 games
Wednesday’s menu brings us a lot more options, as we go from quality over quantity to quantity over quality. The top game of the night just might be the Sun Belt battle between Marshall and James Madison, but this is a good opportunity for you to look at some of the conferences you haven’t dug into a whole lot this season. Conference tournaments start on Monday with the A-Sun, which is in action tonight. (Tracking sheet)
Here are some thoughts on the February 22 card (odds from DraftKings):
James Madison should be at full strength for this one against Marshall, something that was not the case for the first meeting back on Dec. 31. JMU was missing Vado Morse (12 PPG), Julien Wooden (8.6 PPG) and got zero points in 21 minutes from Takal Molson (11 PPG). The Dukes do share the minutes pretty well and also have balanced scoring, but they won 72-66 without some starters and key role players.
Marshall is not a deep team at all, so in a game that will feature a lot of possessions and a lot of pace, it may benefit James Madison to have the roster intact. James Madison has a 44.7% shot share on Close Twos, which ranks 10th in the nation. Marshall has a 34% shot share on Close Twos, which ranks 241st. They’re a jump-shooting team, which is why they are 340th in FT Rate, while James Madison is 19th from getting to the rim a lot.
Marshall’s shot share against on Close Twos of 41.8% ranks 337th in the country, so they play fast and allow a lot of shots at the rim. James Madison plays fast and takes a lot of shots at the rim. The Dukes were missing some of their better FT shooters in the first game and left 10 points at the line. They had six more shot attempts at the rim than Marshall, but only two more made shots. Marshall took 23 mid-range jumpers to just eight for James Madison.
This is a game where shot selection matters a lot given the number of possessions and I prefer JMU’s strategy over Marshall’s, so I’ll take the Dukes to get the sweep at home.
Pick: James Madison -1
Trusting the Jekyll-and-Hyde Red Storm comes with some risk, but this is a good matchup for the visitors against a Georgetown team that will have a hard time keeping up. Georgetown managed to keep up in the first game in a 75-73 loss, but it should not have been that close. St. John’s had 39 shot attempts at the rim and only made 19 of them (48.7%). For a team shooting 60% on Close Twos this season, that was something of an outlier performance.
The Red Storm also didn’t have Posh Alexander in the first game and he’s third on the team in shot attempts on Close Twos. Georgetown, meanwhile, only had 20 shots at the rim and settled for 20 mid-range jumpers. The Red Storm forces the opposition into a lot of 3-point attempts and Georgetown is only shooting 31.2% on 3s.
The Red Storm rank second in adjusted tempo per Bart Torvik, so I’ve got a much better offensive team that should get a lot of high-percentage shot attempts. I can’t say the same for Georgetown. Georgetown has a shot share on Close Twos of 31.5%, which is 313th in the nation. St. John’s is 18th and Georgetown is 301st in shot share against on Close Twos.
St. John’s isn’t always the most responsible or most enjoyable team to bet, but I think this is about the best matchup for them in conference play.
Pick: St. John’s -2
This is a good one in the Mountain West between New Mexico and Boise State. The Lobos won the first meeting 81-79 in overtime back on Jan. 20. The Lobos won despite what I feel like was a bit of an abnormal offensive performance from Boise State and that’s why I like them getting six points on the road in tonight’s game.
When you look at the offensive styles of these two teams, New Mexico gets to the rim a lot more. The Lobos have a shot share on Close Twos of 40.8% (53rd), whereas Boise State is at 33.4% (266th). In the first game, Boise State actually had 32 attempts at the rim compared to 30 for New Mexico. I’d be very surprised if Boise State’s shot share on Close Twos is that high in the rematch here, especially when you consider that New Mexico’s 3P Rate against is 40.1%.
The Lobos are also holding opponents to 31.4% on those 3s, so it’s hard to blow this team out in a lot of ways. New Mexico’s recent ugly losses to Air Force and Wyoming came without Jaelen House, who returned for the blowout romp against San Jose State last game. Aside from the Wyoming loss, New Mexico has scored at least 1 point per possession in all but one other game this season. This is a really good offense. The defense has been the question mark, but Boise State’s offense is solid, but not spectacular.
I like the Lobos to keep this one close in a game that means a lot to both teams.
Pick: New Mexico +6
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