The college basketball season is chugging along with fewer COVID-19 pauses, meaning teams should be able to stay in rhythm as conference play continues.
These are really important weeks, especially for teams in one-bid leagues. There are some big advantages to banking as many wins as possible for seeding purposes or simply to participate in a conference tournament.
Some teams may have more success with that than others in the coming games. Let’s check out some fade and follow teams for this week and beyond.
Teams to Fade
New Mexico: The Lobos had dropped six in a row straight up entering the week but covered in five of those games. Since the calendar flipped to 2022, the Lobos are shooting 39.6 percent from 3 to hide some major deficiencies.
New Mexico is one of the worst rebounding teams in the nation on both ends of the floor. The Lobos also entered Tuesday’s game against Fresno State allowing Mountain West opponents to shoot 56.6 percent on 2s.
Prior to the start of conference play, UNM shot 31.9 percent from 3, so this recent run seems to have come out of nowhere. Poor defensive teams are ones I generally look to fade, especially ones that play at a faster pace because they have to shoot extremely well to compensate. New Mexico is doing that, but for how long?
North Carolina: Like I’ve said before, a lot of the value in college basketball is in the small conferences, but I’m sure readers are dying for a well-known team or two. How about North Carolina as a fade team? Heading into Monday’s game against Virginia Tech, the Tar Heels had only turned opponents over on 11.5 percent of possessions in the previous seven games. For a team allowing the opposition to shoot 38.2 percent from 3 during the span, that’s one way to make life really hard.
For the season, UNC has only turned opponents over on 13.2 percent of possessions, which ranks in the bottom five nationally. They shoot well from 3 but don’t take a lot of them. They’ll be big favorites in a couple of home games the rest of this week, then maybe a short road favorite at Louisville. I think we have some fade spots there.
Teams to Back
Creighton: The Bluejays have gone through a lot of growing pains this season while also dealing with a couple of extended breaks. They had a two-week break to finish 2021 and then a 10-day break in early January. They’re finally in a little bit of a rhythm and that can only help moving forward.
Freshman point guard Ryan Nembhard still remains a bit of a liability, but the Bluejays are shooting under 32 percent on 3s. It’s far and away the worst 3-point shooting team Greg McDermott has had in more than a decade in Omaha, with the highest TO percentage under McDermott as well. Good coaches often whip their teams into shape by the time the second half of the season rolls around. The Bluejays defend extremely well and their offensive efficiency should pick up.
Abilene Christian: The Wildcats are playing their first season in the WAC and have faced the toughest strength of schedule in conference action so far. Abilene Christian plays a high-pressure defense that some teams in the conference are better equipped to handle. Most notably, Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State, who were with ACU in the Southland Conference prior to this season. After those two losses, the Wildcats played Grand Canyon and New Mexico State, two very well-coached teams.
The level of competition takes a major dip for the next five games with UT Rio Grande Valley, Lamar, Chicago State, UTRGV again and Tarleton State. The Wildcats should be favored by a significant number in seven of their last 10 conference games, and their style of play should allow them to cover those spreads.