NCAAB Play of the day: BYU Cougars at Pacific Tigers

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

NCAAB Play of the day: Kent State Golden Flashes at Western Michigan Broncos

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 

NCAAB Play of the day: Lipscomb Bison at Jacksonville Dolphins

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 

NCAAB Play of the Day: St. John’s Red Storm at Butler Bulldogs

The St. John’s Red Storm are the talk of the Big East.  Winners of six straight, including victories over UConn, Villanova, Marquette and most recently Providence.  They have also been the talk of the betting community, covering the spread in eight straight games.  The Red Storm are a hurricane, moving fast and causing devastation on the offensive end.  They are the 12th fastest team in the nation according to Kenpom and they are very efficient, ranking 41st in the nation in offensive efficiency.   Their offensive is highlighted by super freshman guard Posh Alexander, he leads the team in assists with 4.4 a game.  He has also picked up his scoring output over the last five games, averaging 17.4 ppg.  Alexander’s runningmate and the team’s leading scoring Julain Champagnie (18.6 ppg), is a matchup nightmare for any team in the Big East.  Champagnie is 6’8” and shoots 43% from three. 

The Butler Bulldogs have had a rough season.  They lost guard Aaron Thompson early in the season, which set them back to start the season.   Even with Thompson the Butler offense seems lost.  As a team they only average 63 ppg (331st in the nation).  The Bulldogs ended a three game losing streak on Saturday when they took down Depaul at home.  Butler cannot find consistent points from anywhere, they are horrible in the paint and even worse from the free throw line. Jaire Bolden leads Butler in scoring with 12.1 ppg, he is coming off of his worst game of the season, scoring just 3 points in their win over Depaul.  In order to keep up with the fast paced Red Storm, Bolden will have to be better. 

The Bulldogs at home in the past would have been an easy cover spot, but this team is having problems on the offensive end that is hard to ignore.  For Butler to win they will have to slow the pace of the game. They also have to defend the three, something they have not done well all season.  Butler gives up 37% shooting from deep, that is a strength for St. Johns who shoots the ball at 36% (71st in the nation).  These two teams met once this year with St. John’s taking the victory at home 69-57.  The Bulldogs were able to play their pace in that game but turned the ball over 16 times.  The game plan for St. Johns will be simple, move fast and force Butler to score.  If you grab a lead early on the Bulldogs they do not have the firepower to come back.  Take the Red Storm.  

Play of the day: St. John’s ML

NCAAB Play of the day: Ohio State Buckeyes at Maryland Terrapins

Big Ten basketball is about as unpredictable as any conference on any night.  On Monday night we get a matchup between the rising Ohio State Buckeyes and the upset minded Maryland Terrapins. 

The Terps are literally a box of chocolates, never knowing what you are going to get.  They feature wins over Purdue, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, all are great individual wins in a season where they are just 10-9 overall.  Maryland has a lot of talent, they are led by Junior guard Eric Ayala who is coming off of his best game of the year putting up 23 points in their loss to Penn State Friday night. The Terps were not impressive in their their loss Penn State, they only put up 50 points in a matchup with a weaker defensive unit in the Nittany Lions.  They will have to find more points if they want keep up with one of the most efficient offenses in the country.

The Ohio State Buckeyes are on a roll. The Buckeyes have established themselves as the top of the food chain in the loaded Big Ten winning 7 of 8 and sitting just behind Illinois and Michigan for the top overall record in the conference.  The Buckeyes have a dynamic connection between EJ Liddell and Duane Washington, either one has the ability to take over a game at any moment. The offense has been on a tear scoring at least 74 points per game in four straight, if they are able to reach 70 that could be well out of the range for the Terps as they live up to their namesake with one of the slowest paces in the Big Ten. 

The Buckeyes are able to run their offense through EJ Liddell in the post.  Maryland won’t have a big that can hang with him,  they will be forced to pack the defense in, allowing the Ohio State motion offense to work around the athletic Maryland wings.  Ohio State has been efficient on offense ranking top five in the country in offensive efficiency.  Maryland’s experience and athletes will keep this one tight but Ohio State is awesome from the free throw line and should lock this one down in the end.  

Play of the day: Ohio State -3.5

NCAAB Play of the day: George Mason Patriots vs Dayton Flyers

The Dayton Flyers and George Mason Patriots will face Friday night both trying to rebound from conference losses.  The Flyers were upset on the road against Duquesne while George Mason got rolled by conference powerhouse St. Bonaventure.  These two teams will be meeting for the second time this season, the Flyers winning and covering in their first matchup. 

Dayton could not find their offensive flow in their last game shooting just 40% as a team.  They are one of the better teams offensively in the country shooting 47% on the season ranking them 40th in the country.  They are led by guards Jalen Crutcher and Ibi Watson, both were able to put up 42 total points in their last matchup with the Patriots. The emergence of forward Mustapha Amzil has helped deal with the losses of Chase Johnson and Rodney Chatman. The Flyers offense is efficient with 2-point and 3-point field goal percentages ranking in the top 20. 

George Mason has not been effective consistently on the offensive end .  They are led by guard Jordan Miller, averagin 15ppg on the season and was the lone bright spot in their loss to the Bonnies.  The biggest problem for George Mason has been their inability to take freebies at the free throw line.  They rank at the bottom of the nation from the free throw line.  The Patriots seem to run their offense better on the road, their record of 6-1 to the over on the road is both baffling and intriguing for the fanbase and the  betting community. 

Dayton’s offense is almost elite level ranking 28th in the nation in effective field goal percentage, they are also great from the free throw line shooting 74% from the line.  While their offense is great their defense is far from effective. George Mason shouldn’t have problems running their offense.  With the talent on the Flyers offensive end and their struggles on defense I am rolling with the over 131.  These two teams hit the over in their first matchup and the overall total dropped by 5 points.  I would like to go with the Flyers covering the -6 spread but they have had a lot of problems closing out teams in the second half.  This total is too low, so that seems like the better play. 

Play of the day: George Mason/Dayton Over 131

NCAAB Pick of the Day: Aggies roll in a bounce back.

Utah State Aggies at UNLV Running Rebels

Utah State dropped their first conference game to Colorado State last week.  Before that loss they had announced their presence with back to back victories of conference favorite San Diego State.  The Aggies take care of business on both ends of the floor featuring one of the top defensive units in the Mountain West  giving up just 55 points per game while holding opposing offenses to just 28% 3-pt shooitng.   

UNLV has won four straight against sub-par competition.  The four wins were against pitiful New Mexico (2), and two teams I would have to google twice to find out what division they are in St. Katherine and Benedict Mesa.  The Rebes have been solid defensively this season with an Adj defensive efficiency ranking 127th according to Kenpom.  The matchup with Utah State will be their biggest test in conference this season. 

Utah State have a balanced offensive attack with five different players averagin over 10 ppg.  They also bring a huge rebounding edge, ranking in the top twenty in rebounds per game with 41 per contest.  Utah State will have free rain around the perimeter and have a force in the middle with Neemis Queta. The Aggies have defended the 3-pt shot all season, other than their loss to Colorado State they have not allowed a team to shoot over 32% from deep. 

This game will be contested between two teams that are the top defensive squads in their conference.  The difference is the Aggies have more balance and a much higher effective field goal percentage.  The Aggies are a better team all around and should show it on Monday. 

PIck of the day: Utah State Aggies -5.5

Two Wildcats cover- NCAAB Picks ATS Jan. 4

Missouri Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats -8

The Missouri Tigers are coming off of a route of Chicago State.  Not exactly a good warmup for the #17 team in the country coming off of their biggest win of the season over rival Louisville.  The Wildcats come into this with a clear size advantage, Missouri’s leading rebounder is guard Mark Smith averaging just 4.9 per game. They are going to be at a serious disadvantage on the boards.  Kentucky can bring multiple bigs at the Missouri defense including Nick Richards and EJ Montegomery. Missouri will not get many, if any second chance opportunities while the Wildcats should be wild on the offensive boards.  

This game will feature the 25th (Missouri) and 26th (Kentucky) adjusted defenses according to Kenpom.  While they are both great on defense Mizzou ranks 117th in adjusted offense. Even if Mizzou is able to slow the game down, they are at such a huge disadvantage in size that is should be an easy win and cover for Kentucky.

Pick: Kentucky -8

Villanova Wildcats at Marquette Golden Eagles +1

I want to start by saying I love Markus Howard. One of my favorite players in the nation to watch.  Problem is that his team doesn’t always show up the way he does. They have to face off against a Villanova team that is as hot as they come currently in college basketball.  Winners of six straight including two wins over Xavier and Kansas. Villanova’s two loses came on the road against top ten teams Baylor and Ohio State. This game will be on the road but against a very different kind of opponent.  Both of the aforementioned losses were against much stiffer defensive competition ranking 4th (Ohio State) and 12th (Baylor) in Kenpom’s defensive rankings.  

Marquette is coming off of a loss to Creighton where they surrendered 92 points.  They have to bring more intensity on the defensive end to stand a chance. Marquette will keep this one close but they have not shown the ability to finish higher level competition with their best wins coming against Kansas State, Purdue and USC, none bring the potential firepower Villanova does.  

I like Villanova to establish themselves as the class of the tough Big East.  Should be fun but this is a day for Wildcats. 

Picks: Villanova -1

NCAAF Picks

Syracuse Orange at Louisville Cardinal Total: 62.5

Both defenses are not good, ranking 83rd(Syracuse) and 103rd(Louisville) overall. These teams are going to be looking to move the ball and move it quickly.  

Syracuse seemed to find its offensive groove last week against Duke running for 286 yards dominating the Blue Devils and reminding us of what we thought the Orange could be.  The Orange have actually run 80 plays per game during the season which ranks them in the top five nationally. Syracuse has not been able to throw the ball the way that they had hoped but they should be able to move the ball against the Cardinals defense.

Louisville has become an offensive juggernaut over the last three weeks scoring 28, 27 and 34 over the last three weeks against better defensive units then Syracuse.  The Cardinal quarterback Micale Cunningham has averaged 12 yard per pass since the beatdown at the hands of Clemson four weeks ago.  

This game may not be flashy, but I see a lot of turnovers causing great field position that will lead to scores. These teams aren’t playing for much which should benefit the offenses. 

Pick: Over 62.5 

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Northwestern Wildcats +14

The Golden Gophers chance at the College Football Playoff is over.  PJ Fleck will not let that bother his team heading into a matchup with the offensively challenged Northwestern Wildcats. 

Minnesota has the 14th ranked total defense in the country.  Northwestern had problems running away from the UMass Minuteman until the second half.  For those who don’t know UMass is arguably the worst team in all of college football.  

The Wildcats will come out fired up in the first half being its final home game of the season.  They could keep things close…in the first quarter. The Golden Gophers running game will take over and Minnesota will coast to an easy victory.

 Pick: Minnesota Golden Gophers -14

Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio State Buckeyes -18.5 Total: 57

The Nittany Lions hold their fate in their hands.  If they are able to beat Ohio State on Saturday they will completely change the current landscape of the College Football Playoff. While that is nice to think about they have one big hurdle to jump. That hurdle is the dominant Ohio State Buckeyes who have shown no mercy to any team at any point during the season. 

Some will say that Penn State was exposed over the last two weeks.  While they haven’t played their best football they had tough matchups in a ramped up Minnesota team and an underrated Indiana team.  The Nittany Lions will come out focused and ready for a battle. But it won’t matter. Penn State Quarterback Sean Clifford has struggled over his last five games and he will have to deal with the built up frustration of Chase Young returning from a ridiculous two game suspension.  

This game will come down to whether or not Ohio State is able to establish JK Dobbins and the run game allowing for Justin Fields to open up and do Justin Fields things.  The problem for Penn State will be the Buckeyes have to many weapons to hold down. They have better talent and are coached better than Minnesota. Penn State should be able to put up some points but I don’t see them having much of a chance to stop Ohio State.  

Parlay Pick: Ohio State ATS and Over

Other Picks:

Mizzou -4

NCAAB Picks ATS 1.19.19

Michigan Wolverines -3 at Wisconsin Badgers

The Michigan Wolverines are rolling right now.  Entering this matchup with a perfect record, most recently pounding the Northwestern Wildcats 80-60 last Sunday. The Wolverines have one of the most punishing defenses in the nation allowing just 56.5 points per game, 3rd fewest in division one basketball. They enter a matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers who’s only win in the last seven days was against Big Ten bottom dweller Penn State.  The Badgers have had some tough luck early in the Big Ten season as their last two losses to Purdue and Maryland were by a combined eight points. 

Wisconsin will need their star senior Ethan Happ to continue to play a vital role, operating as a do-it-all forward for the Badgers, as he’s averaging 19.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists. While he has some help with D’Mtrick Trice and Brad Davison the Wisconsin offense will need multiple players to play above their means on Saturday.  The bright side being that the Badgers are 8-2 straight up against Michigan in their last ten meetings at home.  The counter argument to Wisconsin’s home dominance is Michigan’s 5-1 record ATS over their last six away games.

The Wolverines are on a mission to finish what they started last March.  They continue that mission on Saturday handling the Badgers and covering the -3 spread.

Lousiville Cardinals -3.5 at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

The Louisville Cardinals were 12 point underdogs last Saturday when they visited Chapel Hill. Not only covering the spread but beating the Tarheels straight up.  Led by leading scorer Jordan Nwora’s 18.1 points and 8.1 rebound per game.  The Cardinals have looked like a different team since their loss to the rebuilding Pittsburgh Panthers.  The loss to the Panthers seemed to put this team back on track under the leadership of new Head Coach Chris Mack.

Georgia Tech currently sits at 10-7, 1-2 in the ACC with losses to Virginia Tech and Clemson.  The Jackets are 5-1 ATS in their last six Saturday games and 7-2 ATS in their last nine versus the ACC. Georgia Tech is a plucky team that can keep this one close but the Cardinals have been playing to well to fall off against a team that is not as talented.  Chris Mack won’t allow them to come out flat.

Virginia Cavaliers at Duke Blue Devils -1.5

The Cameron Crazies will be on edge waiting for this marquee matchup with the unbeaten Virginia Cavaliers.  The uncertainty of Tre Jones would have most people leaning towards Virginia in this matchup.  Without the defense of Tre Jones, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome should have no problem running what has become and efficient Virginia attack. They have a 56% effective field goal percentage and own a potent 40% clip from behind the arc.

The Blue Devils will have Cam Reddish back on the court Saturday which will give them another shooter to rely on. The struggles of co-captain Jack White from behind the arc put the Blue Devils in a bad position Monday night against the Syracuse zone, the return of Reddish and he likely minutes increase for sharpshooting sophomore Alex O’Connell will open up the middle for RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson to do their work. 

The Virginia defense is the best in the country but they are going up against their stiffest competition to date.  Virginia Tech does not have the athletes that the Blue Devils do.  I love this Virginia team but the worst thing that could of happened leading into this game was a loss to Syracuse.  Barrett, Williamson and company will come out with something to prove and Virginia will not be able to keep up on the offensive end. Duke wins by five.

Other picks for Saturday

Indiana +8

Kansas -5.5

Cincinnati/ Wichita State Under 135.5

Missouri +5

Memphis -3.5

Dayton -3.5