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Kansas rocking and rolling at right time

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

February 25, 2018 11:16 PM

Back from hiatus! VSiN City gets you caught up in college hoops as the countdown continues to March Madness. Key weekend game stats and updated “market” Power Ratings from the major conferences on tap to get you ready for this week’s handicapping challenges. 

Big 12 Basketball: #8 Kansas wins another championship as late season peak continues
We start with the marquee game of the weekend according to the AP poll and respected computer rankings. Kansas made it four straight wins and three straight covers this past Saturday with a huge underdog win at Texas Tech. The Jayhawks will be able to make a strong case for a #1 seed if they can also win the Big 12 tournament. Let’s see how they won in Lubbock. 

#8 Kansas (plus 2.5) 74, #6 Texas Tech 72
Two-point Pct: Kansas 56%, Texas Tech 50% 
Three Pointers: Kansas 11/25, Texas Tech 8/24
Free Throws: Kansas 11/16, Texas Tech 16/23
Rebounds: Kansas 29, Texas Tech 34
Turnovers: Kansas 10, Texas Tech 8
Estimated Possessions: Kansas 63, Texas Tech 61
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Kansas 9-6-8, Texas Tech 11-13-12

We’ll start using “estimated possessions” in boxscores in basketball coverage so pace can be part of our discussions. We’ll use a simplified formula of Shots Minus Offensive Rebounds plus one-half free throws plus turnovers. Easy for you to skim across a boxscore and do the math in your head. You can see that this was a slow-paced game with accurate shooting. Kansas hitting 44% on treys is like nailing 66% on deuces. The Jayhawks added 56% on actual deuces. Texas Tech hung around despite trailing much of the day. Slightly less production on three-pointers hurt. The computers and the market saw KU as the superior team going in, given that the point spread was less than the raw value of home court advantage. Great game, big road win. 

Big 12 estimated “market” Power Ratings: Kansas 85, West Virginia 84 at home…83 on the road, Texas Tech 84, TCU 81, Oklahoma 81 at home…80 on the road, Kansas State 79, Texas 79, Baylor 79, Oklahoma State 77, Iowa State 73 at home...72 on the road.

Not much has changed here since our last look. The market respects this conference. Will be interesting to see how impressed the selection committee is (or isn’t) with the likes of Baylor, Texas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

We want to make sure to get you updated Power Ratings for all six of the major hoops conferences. We’ll pick out a marquee result for a ranked team in each from this past weekend, going in order of those rankings.

Big Ten Basketball: #2 Michigan State wins Big 10 outright with Sunday win at Wisconsin
It’s over! The Big Ten regular season that is. Michigan State won the conference outright and earned the #1 seed in this week’s tournament by holding off Wisconsin Sunday in Madison. 

#2 Michigan State (-7.5) 68, Wisconsin 63
Two-point Pct: Michigan State 45%, Wisconsin 41% 
Three Pointers: Michigan State 8/20, Wisconsin 5/18
Free Throws: Michigan State 14/18, Wisconsin 14/19
Rebounds: Michigan State 40, Wisconsin 28
Turnovers: Michigan State 13, Wisconsin 4
Estimated Possessions: Michigan State 62, Wisconsin 61
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Michigan State 4-4-5, Wisconsin 80-63-70

Miles Bridges was just 3 of 15 from the floor for Sparty, including 0 of 7 on three-pointers. Tough to cover stiff road prices when a star is shooting that poorly. Great numbers in the areas of 2-point defense and rebounding for MSU, which made up for the inability to force any turnovers. Sparty is much more focused on denying good looks than it is for gambling on steals. Wisconsin finishes the regular season by covering six of its last seven, catching the market napping a bit after a turnaround. 

Big Ten estimated “market” Power Ratings: Purdue 86, Michigan State 86, Ohio State 82, Michigan 81, Penn State 78, Maryland 76, Nebraska 76, Indiana 76, Wisconsin 76, Iowa 74, Northwestern 74, Illinois 73, Minnesota 71, Rutgers 68.

We’ll have to see if a potential Purdue/Michigan State meeting in the Big Ten tourney creates any separation for Dance seeding in the mind of the selection committee. Still plenty of doubt about whether only four teams will earn bids from this league. Bubble teams Penn State and Nebraska need to impress later this week. 

Big East Basketball: #3 Villanova suffers fourth conference loss 
There’s so much depth in college basketball this season that we’re ultimately going to have #1 seeds that showed vulnerability in big games. Villanova did that again this past Saturday in a road loss at Creighton. Though the Blue Jays weren’t ranked in the AP because of seven Big East losses, the computers had them as roughly a top 25 caliber team in true quality. This thriller went overtime. 

Creighton (plus 7) 89, #3 Villanova 83 (in overtime)
Regulation Score: Villanova 72, Creighton 72
Two-point Pct: Villanova 53%, Creighton 56% 
Three Pointers: Villanova 12/39, Creighton 12/29
Free Throws: Villanova 11/14, Creighton 15/20
Rebounds: Villanova 40, Creighton 38
Turnovers: Villanova 10, Creighton 12
Estimated Possessions: Villanova 81, Creighton 81
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Villanova 2-2-1, Creighton 30-24-21

You can usually knock about 10 possessions off an OT game to ballpark the regulation possession count. More strong shooting numbers here. Creighton sparkled inside and out…which is a reminder that Villanova’s defense can ebb and flow in big games. The road favorites missed 27 treys, compared to just 17 for the home dogs. Not much else in the numbers showing separation. Missed threes can be virtual turnovers that put you on the wrong side of the tie-breaker in big games. 

Big East estimated “market” Power Ratings: Villanova 88 at home…87 on the road, Xavier 81, Seton Hall 77, Butler 77, Creighton 77, Marquette 76, St. John’s 75, Providence 74, Georgetown 72, DePaul 70.

Might be worth thinking of Villanova as a hoops version of the New England Patriots. They can really run up the score vs. weaklings, or when everything’s clicking. Right now, they trail Xavier in the Big East standings because of vulnerability vs. quality. Market pricing and computer rankings may be painting too optimistic a picture of the Wildcats’ true odds to run the table next month. 

ACC Basketball: #5 Duke looks great after switching to a zone defense 
Maybe Coach K should have tried this earlier! What seemed like a desperation move to play zone defense because of tired legs wearing down in a man-to-man has inexplicably created a temporary defensive juggernaut in Durham. Great debut earlier in the week. Then, a pure stranglehold on Syracuse all day Saturday. 

#5 Duke (-14) 60, Syracuse 44
Two-point Pct: Syracuse 38%, Duke 57%
Three Pointers: Syracuse 6/25, Duke 2/18
Free Throws: Syracuse 4/6, Duke 14/16
Rebounds: Syracuse 33, Duke 37
Turnovers: Syracuse 17, Duke 11 
Estimated Possessions: Syracuse 65, Duke 64
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Syracuse 51-47-51, Duke 3-2-4

Syracuse couldn’t make a trey most of the way…before hitting a few in the final minutes long after the game had been decided. Duke held the Orange to 11 of 29 on two-pointers, while also forcing 17 turnovers in a game with a below average pace. Now…this is Syracuse, who’s a bubble team that the computers might not give a Dance bid too if they were in charge. Don’t start ordering those Final Four tickets yet, despite what the computers and the new AP poll suggest. Though, Duke has a better chance to avoid fatigue in the Dance by playing zone, while hiding a few defensive weaknesses. Interesting gambit that has created a storyline bettors must follow. 

ACC estimated “market” Power Ratings: Duke 87, Virginia 86, North Carolina 83, Clemson 80, Florida State 79, Virginia Tech 79, Louisville 78, Miami 77, NC State 77, Syracuse 76, Notre Dame 76, Georgia Tech 73, Wake Forest 73, Boston College 73, Pittsburgh 64.

Hard to know what to expect next month from Florida State through Miami on that scale. Get ready for a lot of tiny point spreads in the conference tourney and Dance brackets. 

SEC Basketball: #12 Auburn still leads SEC despite loss at Florida 
Hard to believe Auburn still has a three-game lead over Florida in spite of a loss this past Saturday in Gainesville. The absence for the rest of the season of Anfernee McLemore is likely to matter in Auburn’s biggest games. Though, the box score below shows that the Gators won largely because of a good night from long range. Still a “live by the three, die by the missed three” team. Don’t overrate Florida off this win. Tough to go 13 of 28 on bombs on command. 

Florida (-1.5) 72, #12 Auburn 66
Two-point Pct: Auburn 52%, Florida 42%
Three Pointers: Auburn 8/23, Florida 13/28
Free Throws: Auburn 8/10, Florida 7/16
Rebounds: Auburn 41, Florida 31
Turnovers: Auburn 16, Florida 8
Estimated Possessions: Auburn 65, Florida 65
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Auburn 10-17-14, Florida 27-32-32

That’s plus 15 points in long range scoring for the hosts in a game they only won by six. Auburn won the inside game impressively, particularly off the glass. But, forcing only 8 turnovers from Florida is a negative. Florida found it too easy to pass around the arc to get open looks. Note the computers still aren’t high on the Gators even after this win. They can play spoiler on a hot night, and may get a chance to do that with a Dance seed in the 6-8 range. 

SEC estimated “market” Power Ratings: Auburn 82, Florida 81, Tennessee 81 at home…80 on the road, Kentucky 80, Texas A&M 80 at home…79 on the road, Arkansas 79 at home…77 on the road, Missouri 79 at home…77 on the road, Alabama 78, South Carolina 74, Mississippi State 77, Georgia 76, LSU 75 at home…74 on the road, Vanderbilt 75, Ole Miss 74. 

The SEC tournament could be really great given the tight range from short-handed Auburn down to the spoilers. Very wide open based on those rating estimates. 

American Athletic Basketball: #13 Wichita State still playing Overs thanks to poor defense 
It’s one of the worst kept secrets in college basketball that Wichita State is playing bad defense this season. It’s now NINE straight Overs because the market prices just won’t adjust. The Shockers and SMU cleared the total by 20 points Saturday. 
 
#13 Wichita State (-8) 84, SMU 78
Two-point Pct: Wichita State 50%, SMU 40%
Three Pointers: Wichita State 11/24, SMU 15/31
Free Throws: Wichita State 19/23, SMU 17/22
Rebounds: Wichita State 41, SMU 23
Turnovers: Wichita State 16, SMU 11
Estimated Possession: Wichita State 67, SMU 65
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Wichita State 17-12-11, SMU 74-55-59

A big night on treys help make up for poor inside shooting for SMU. That’s still way over one point per possession for the shorthanded hosts against this Shocker side. Wichita State’s offense continues to be stellar. But, it’s likely to face stiffer competition in the Dance than what it’s been dealing with in the AAC. Will be interesting to see if the team is seeded with more respect this season than in the past two, just as they might be getting exposed as soft. 

American Athletic estimated “market” Power Ratings: Wichita State 84, Cincinnati 82, Houston 77, SMU 73, Temple 72, Central Florida 69, Tulsa 68, Connecticut 68, Tulane 67, Memphis 66, East Carolina 59, South Florida 58.

Wichita State is still getting respect, as you saw by that steep price Saturday at SMU. Very tough to ask a soft defense that couldn’t impress in this league to get stops next month against more dangerous opponents. That said, the market certainly sees the Shockers and Cincinnati as Sweet 16 material.

Pac 12 Basketball: #14 Arizona almost wins at Oregon without its head coach 
By now, you know all about Sean Miller’s saga at Arizona. We’ll save discussions on the FBI investigation to pundits. In terms of betting, the Wildcats played better than expectations even though they ultimately didn’t cover the closing point spread in extra time. A regulation cover, not that it’s any consolation to bettors who took a shot on the Wildcats at the apex of spread and money line pricing, particularly after Arizona blew a double-digit lead. 

Oregon (-4.5) 98, #14 Arizona 93 (in overtime)
Regulation Score: Arizona 83, Oregon 83
Two-point Pct: Arizona 66%, Oregon 44%
Three Pointers: Arizona 7/18, Oregon 14/33
Free Throws: Arizona 18/22, Oregon 20/24
Rebounds: Arizona 35, Oregon 30
Turnovers: Arizona 17, Oregon 4
Estimated Possessions: Arizona 77, Oregon 75
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Arizona 24-14-20, Oregon 68-50-64

Again, remember to knock out those overtime possessions in your pace interpretation. Not a run-and-gun game at all even though total points soared past 191 in 45 minutes. Disappointing defense from both. Arizona scored at will when it got the ball inside. Oregon did an excellent job from long range while only turning the ball over four tames. A couple of things worth noting here. First, the media storyline of “potential Final Four team Arizona might have to forfeit its season” was greatly overstating Arizona’s real chances next month. You can see that two of the three computers don’t have the Wildcats in the top 19. And, this is now four losses in a disappointing conference. Second, Oregon isn’t a Dance caliber team according to the computers. Bettors assuming Oregon would crush distracted Arizona weren’t paying enough attention to Oregon’s weaknesses. 

Pac 12 estimated “market” Power Ratings: Arizona (???), USC 79 at home…78 on the road, Arizona State 78, UCLA 78, Oregon 78, Utah 78 at home…77 on the road, Stanford 76, Colorado 73 at home…72 on the road, Washington 73, Oregon State 73, Washington State 68, California 67.

Frankly, the league isn’t performing as well in the eye test as market pricing might suggest. It’s possible that only two Pac 12 teams earn Dance bids, even though as many as six may be Power Rated as Dance quality by the market. We’ll have to see where Arizona settles as news reports firm up. The market basically settled on Arizona at 77 for the Oregon game.

That wraps up our Monday report. Back Tuesday to run the numbers from ESPN’s Big Monday doubleheader featuring Duke at Virginia Tech and Texas at Kansas. We’ll also recap Texas Tech at West Virginia, and possibly have a chance to take an early look at the Big 10 postseason tournament that begins Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York. 

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