The Hawks stunk to start the season. They began 2021 going 1-14 with their one win coming in a non-cover against Albany. Their horrid start was primarily without their star Ryan Daly. Daly has returned to the lineup and so has the offense. With two straight A-10 victories over Dayton and LaSalle scoring over 90 points in both contests the Hawks have seemed to find their groove. St. Joe’s record is terrible but they have been an overly competitive team during most of the season. They have had four games go to overtime and lost six games by single digits.
The Richmond Spiders started the season completely different from the Hawks. The Spiders started the season 7-1 with a marquee victory over college basketball blue blood Kentucky. The Spiders looked like a potential mid-major sleeper team. Richmond came back down to earth with losses to Hofstra and LaSalle, they now find themselves on the outside of the bubble. Richmond is an efficient offense, ranking 21st in the nation. They have an offense that can compete with anyone but they have a problem on the defensive end. The Spiders give up an effective field goal percentage of 52%. That will be a problem against the fast paced Hawks that will be looking to move up and down the court.
The Hawk’s record is bad, but they are solid against the spread at 7-10 and are playing a lot better with Daly back in the lineup. Along with Daly, St. Joe’s has Taylor Funk coming off a 36 point game against Dayton. The combination of Daly and Funk will be able to put up points against a subpar Richmond defense. The pace will be quickened and the Spiders will have problems pulling away. The Hawks played their last game against Richmond without Daly and that led to a 23 point loss. With Daly in the lineup and a lot of momentum going into this matchup, St. Joe’s should be able to give the Spiders a game. This spread is too high for a conference matchup with a fully healthy Hawks team.
Play of the day: St. Joe’s Hawks +14.5
The Duquesne Dukes are just 7-7 on the season but they have been red hot ATS, covering 6 straight games. They build their brand on the defensive end ranking 65th in defensive efficiency, they give up just 65 ppg. The Dukes had a three game win streak ended by Richmond this weekend, but they gave the Spiders all they could handle. The Duke’s are led by a trio of seniors Marcus Weathers (14.9 ppg), Michael Hughes (11 ppg & 8 rpg), and Tavion Dunn-Martin (10.8 ppg).
La Salle has been on a horrible run, losing four straight games including a recent loss to St. Joe’s and a loss to Fordham. The Explorers are just 160th in adjusted offensive efficiency and even worse on the defensive end ranking 250th in adjusted defensive efficiency. La Salle will not be able to get anything going on offense. The Dukes can slow down the pace and dominate the exterior and interior of the defensive end. La Salle’s defense has been a problem all season and will continue on Wednesday night.
This game features two teams going in opposite directions. The Duke’s have been playing at a high level while the Explorers have had trouble even competing in games. Duquesne is led by seniors while La Salle is led by underclassmen. This is going to be a low scoring affair that fits right into the mold of the game plan for Duquesne. This game should be set more around a 6 point spread which means there will be value on the Duke’s
Play of the day: Duquesne Dukes -4
The Sooners are 8-2 ATS in their last ten games, including victories over Alabama, Texas, Kansas and West Virginia. With a litany of big victories under their belt they came out flat in their last matchup against Iowa State, sneaking by the Cyclones by only ten points and failing to cover the spread. I expect Lon Kruger’s bunch will come out to set the tone early on the road against the cellar dweller Kansas State. They will look to make quick work of a team that historically they have not had a lot of success against.
Oklahoma is not an offensive juggernaut, when they do score, they do it efficiently, ranking 31st in offensive efficiency. Austin Reaves, De’Vion Harmon and Brady Manek all average double figures and should be able to have their way with a less than stellar Kansas State defense that gives up 72 ppg and 46% shooting. In their first matchup of the year Oklahoma handled Kansas State winning 76-50 on January 19th. They were able to cover the spread while only shooting 11/21 from the free throw line. It was their top 20 ranked defense that shined forcing 23 Wildcat turnovers.
Kansas State has no offensive identity, because they don’t score. They average just 61 ppg with an effective field goal percentage of 47.6 on the season ranking them near the bottom. They don’t shoot three well (29%) and they can’t make anything from the free throw line (65%), their leading scorer is Nijuel Pack who averages 12 per game, he didn’t play in their first matchup with the Sooners but he will have a tough task of going against Reaves and Harmon, they will lock him down and stop any kind of K-State offensive push. The Wildcats don’t have any kind of home court advantage either, they are 3-12 ATS at Bramlage Coliseum.
Oklahoma is better in every facet of the game and will show it on Tuesday night. 10.5 points on the road is a lot but the Sooners have a defense that will hold K-State under 60 and Lon Kruger will take advantage of multiple mis-matches.
Play of the day: Oklahoma Sooners -10.5
Sam Houston State is red hot winning 13 of their last 14 games. They are an offensive juggernaut in the Southland conference, averaging 81 ppg in 2021. They are one of the faster teams in college basketball, ranking 64th in pace. They are a stellar unit from behind the arc shooting 36% as a team from three. Their offense is led by Zack Nutall, averaging 19 ppg. Nutall was dominant in their first game of the season, scoring 28 points.
The Lamar Cardinal’s offense has been less than stellar this season. They are averaging just 64 ppg this season. They are putrid from deep, shooting just 28% from three on the season, they do not have the firepower to stick with the Sam Houston State offense. Lamar can’t guard the three at all, giving up 39% shooting from deep. They are going to get picked apart by the Bearkats offense that thrives from deep.
Lamar has already been owned by Sam Houston State losing by 25 points earlier this season. The Cardinals have not been able to get anything going this season and have little to play for, Sam Houston State has the chance to still win the Southland Conference and are looking for a shot to make the NCAA tournament. The Bearkats will be too much to handle for Lamar, this is a double digit victory.
Play of the day: Sam Houston State Bearkats -9.5
The Robert Morris Colonials head to the Detroit Titans Friday night in a Horizon League matchup featuring two of the weakest defenses in all of college basketball. Detroit and Robert Morris both rank worse than 280th in defensive efficiency in the nation. Robert Morris in particular has given up at least 79 points in seven of their last eight games. The Titans have scored over 80 points in three of their last four.
Robert Morris can’t guard the perimeter, they give up threes at 38% per game on the season. The Titans are a great outside shooting team, as a team they shoot 38% from deep. Detroit guard Antoine Davis leads the offensive attack, averaging 22 ppg, he has scored 23 points in five straight games.. Along with Davis Detroit features guards Noah Waterman and Bul Kuol, both are double digit scorers. Detroit doesn’t move quickly but they are all about efficiency on the offensive end.
The Colonials give up 77 ppg on the season. Their offense has begun to catch up with their defense scoring 81 and 88 in their last two games. Guard AJ Bramah leads the offensive attack averaging 21 ppg and 10 rpg, they only feature one other double digit scorer but the offensive works well around Bramah and their recent offensive output makes them a real problem for the Titans defense.
The Colonials and the Titans are both terrible on the defensive end. They both can shoot the ball well from deep and it should be an easy flow for both offenses. Detroit is a 9.5 point favorite that should be able to cover the spread, their offense should be able to get to 80 and Robert Morris is red hot on the offensive end. This number is too low for how bad these defenses are.
Play of the day: Over 143.5
The West Coast Conference is on full display Thursday night. The matchup between the BYU Cougars and the Pacific Tigers will be the undercard for the Gonzaga/St. Mary’s matchup. The undercard always has great value and I think this game is a perfect example of it. The Cougars are 15-5 overall on the season with losses to Gonzaga (2), USC, Boise State and Pepperdine. All but Pepperdine are likely NCAA tournament teams and all losses have something in common, the opposing team’s prolific athletic talent took away the strengths of the Cougars. That will not be the case in this matchup.
Pacific plays at one of the slower paces in the nation ranking 288th overall. Their pace has hidden a lot of their flaws on the defensive end. They are efficient according to the analytics ranking 98th overall in defensive efficiency but they still give up 71 ppg. They really have trouble defending beyond the arc giving up 35% shooting. While this BYU team is the shot-chucking team of the last few seasons they still can hit the three when given the chance making 35% of them on the season. Pacific relies on leading scorers Daniss Jenkins and Jeremiah Bailey, both average 12 ppg, other than that they don’t have any consistency on the offensive end. The Tigers got huge performances from their bench in the first matchup from Jabril Price-Noel and Justin Moore, who gave them 34 points in a OT loss. They can’t assume that they will get that kind of production again.
BYU guards the interior very well only allowing 44% shooting from inside the three point line this season. The Tigers are a horrible outside shooting team, they have to force turnovers and drive to get baskets and an offense reliant on that will have problems with the length BYU brings to the table. The Cougars have a group of offensive threats most notably guard Alex Barcullo who averages 15 ppg. They have two post threats that are ferocious on the glass in Caleb Lohner and Purdue transfer Matt Harms,. The interior will be completely controlled by BYU, they average 78 ppg and should have no problem scoring in this matchup.
The Cougars are not scared of playing on the road. They are 4-1 ATS on the road this season and they are in need of a win. While there are no stats that back up the desperation for a win, I like to go with teams on the bubble playing teams with little to play for. Pacific is a tough team led by a former NBA player and will keep this close in the first half, ultimately the better offense will pull away.
Play of the day: BYU Cougars -5.5
The MAC doesn’t get the credit it deserves for being one of the most entertaining conferences in college basketball. There are a lot of high paced teams that can be very unpredictable. The Kent State Golden Flashes are one of those teams that are a lot of fun to watch. They are also a very profitable team going 10-5-1 ATS this season.
The Golden Flashes are led by forward Danny Pippen, averaging 20 ppg along with 9 rpg, both leading the team. Pippen leads an offense that is extremely efficient, they are a top 80 team in offensive efficiency . They also have an effective shooting percentage of 52.2%. The Golden Flashes crush teams on the inside controlling the boards ranking 15th in the nation in rebound per game. They are a dominant force on the interior and should control that aspect in their matchup with the Broncos
The Western Michigan Broncos had their two game win streak ended by Buffalo this weekend, getting smashed by the Bulls 86-54. The Broncos have not been able to handle the elite of the MAC conference. Buffalo, Akron, Ohio and Kent State have made easy work of the Broncos in every matchup. Their previous matchup with Kent State ended in a 26-point thrashing at the hands of the Golden Flashes. Kent State guard Mike Nuga led the way in their last matchup scoring 26 points. Nuga has been out with an injury but while he has been out Pippen has stepped up to the plate.
Kent State is 4-0 ATS in their last four road games. They should continue that dominance on Tuesday night against a Western Michigan team that will have no answer to Danny Pippen. Kent State has a massive advantage in every category. Even if Mike Nuga misses this game the Golden Flashes are in a different class then the Broncos. Take Kent State by double digits.
Play of the day: Kent State Golden Flashes -9.5
The Cardinals shocked the baseball world when they made a huge trade this season. I am of course talking about trading Dexter Fowler to the Los Angeles Angels. Fowler’s tenure in St. Louis was not a complete disaster. His first season and his last season were serviceable. The Cardinals moving on from Fowler leaves a hole in the outfield that will likely be filled with a young bat. The Cardinals will fill from within. There is a guy that will have to step up and it’s not the player that most would think.
With Marcell Ozuna signing with the Braves and Andrew Benintendi being traded to the Royals there are no impact bats on the market that are going to be able to step in and make a difference behind Goldschmidt and Arenado. The Cardinals are looking to step into the future with a projected outfield consisting of Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neil and Dylan Carlson. Each of the aforementioned outfielders are not above the age of 26 and none have proven to be an efficient major league player for a full 162 game schedule.
The Cardinals outfield youth will be a challenge to a team that is looking to contend immediately. St. Louis will likely have to look to its organizational depth to protect their team. While 2020 free agent signee Austin Dean impressed in spring training and when given opportunities in-season he is not the long term answer to the Cardinals question. Justin Williams was picked up in the trade that sent Tommy Pham to the Rays in July of 2019. Williams has been a long time prospect in every system he has been a part of. The former second round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks finished his first season with the Cardinals impressively with a slash line of .340/.427/.553. When healthy Williams has shown serious power, blasting 14 homers with the Rays in double-A (2017) and seven homers in 31 games in triple-A Memphis (2019).
The Cardinals have moved on from left-handed bats Brad Miller, Matt Wieters (switch), Kolten Wong and of course Dexter Fowler. The acquisition of Nolan Arenado will likely lead to less at bats for Matt Carpenter, the Cardinals will need to have more threats from the left side of the plate and Williams will find his chance to make the difference for the organization in late game situations, pinch hitting for O’Neil and Bader.
The Eastern Kentucky Colonels started the OVC season on a tear. They started 7-0 in conference feasting on the lower tier of the conference. Their run included a 10-point victory over their opponent on Monday night the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles.
Eastern Kentucky has been fast all season. They rank in the top ten in tempo, they force teams to move at their pace which causes havoc for opposing offenses. The Colonels force turnovers 24% of opposing offensive possessions. The ballhawking defense of Eastern Kentucky will be a huge problem for Tennesee Tech who turns the ball over at a 22.9% rate. Eastern Kentucky has multiple options to score with eight different players that average over seven points per game. Their leading scorer is Tre King, averaging 15.7 ppg, as a team they are averaging 82.7 ppg on the season. They are a high level offensive team that has a goal to dictate the pace of the game. Versus the lower level teams in their conference their has been no answer for the fast paced action.
Tennessee Tech was able to cover the 10.5-point spread in their first matchup of the season mainly due to their ability to hit the three. The Golden Eagles were 15/31 from behind the arc, shocking numbers from a team that only shoots 30% from deep during the season. The Golden Eagles snapped a six game losing streak in the OVC with a victory over Eastern Illinois but they are up against a much tougher offensive team on Monday night. They will need a similar effort from deep to compete with the high paced Colonels offensive attack.
Eastern Kentucky has fallen off a cliff since their hot start to the season but they are still a much better offensive team then Tennessee Tech. The Colonels are solid on the road with a 7-3 record ATS, they are facing a team that has given up an effective field goal percentage over 50% on the season. Having confidence in the Colonels is tough but they are a much better team, I actually took this game at -9, you can now get it at -7.5 and I would jump on that line.
Play of the day: Eastern Kentucky Colonels -7.5
The Jacksonville Dolphins are losers of 7 straight games. They have lost the last five games by an average of 13.4 ppg. Jacksonville is a dumpster fire on offense, averaging just 66 ppg and average a turnover in 20% of their offensive possessions. The Dolphins offense doesn’t get much from deep, shooting just 31% from three. Jacksonville’s only offense comes from forward Dontarius James averaging 17 ppg. Even with the offense of James the Jacksonville Dolphin are ranked 337th in the nation in offensive efficiency.
The Lipscomb Bison looked like they were turning things around in early January getting two straight victories over Bellarmine. They followed that up with a 4-3 record, sitting in the middle of the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bison have a dynamic backcourt tandom in KJ Johnson and leading scorer Romeao Ferguson. Ferguson and Johnson both shoot over 44% from three, as a team the Bison shoot 37% from behind the arc. They are archored in the middle by Ahsan Asadullah, averagin 13 ppg, 7 rpg and a team leading 3 apg.
Lipscomb’s defense is not stellar, but it doesn’t take a great defensive unit to keep Jacksonville in check. The Dolphins don’t do anything well. They don’t shoot well from three and are one of the worst teams in the nation at the free throw line. Lipscomb’s offense isn’t elite other than their long range shooting but they do rank 105th in effective field goal shooting which is enough to put pressure on a Dolphins team that is unable to put the ball in the basket. The Bison are the better team and all tehy have to do is stop Dontarius James to be successful. Easy cover for Lipscomb.
Play of the day: Lipscomb Bison -5