CBB Picks ATS 2.23.19

Tennessee Volunteers at LSU Tigers

Tennessee was primed to make a statement last week in Lexington. They had control of the SEC and could bury the “mighty” Kentucky Wildcats.  Instead they saw an end to their 20-game winning streak and found themselves just one game up the aforementioned Wildcats and their opponents on Saturday the LSU Tigers.

This is a matchup of offensive teams both ranking in the top ten in scoring in all of college basketball.  The difference on Saturday will be the ability of either team to establish themselves on the defensive end.  In LSU’s loss to Florida on Wednesday night the Tigers were unable to adjust to a Florida that tried to slow down the pace. If Tennessee is able to establish a slower pace and dominate the ball control LSU will not be able to adjust.

We have seen the Volunteers win scrappy games when they have to.   I like Jordan Bone holding Tremont Waters in check and the Volunteers to prevail on the road.  I’m not going to worry about last week or the Rick Barnes curse.  Give me the Volunteers in a huge SEC game.

Pick: Tennessee -1

Ohio State Buckeyes at Maryland Terrapins

Every week I look at Maryland and see a potential second weekend team.  It could be my love for the traditional big that you really only see in college basketball.  Bruno Fernando is a throwback to the basketball I watched as a kid.  Throw it to the big man and impose your will.  The sophomore center enjoyed his matchup in Columbus putting up 13 point and 15 rebounds.  He will be on the attack early against Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson whom was no match in the first meeting.  If Wesson gets into foul trouble the deficiencies of Ohio State’s depth will show.

Neither team will bring a potent offensive attack, but if Maryland is able to avoid a sluggish start that they are known for they should be able to coast to an easy victory at home.  They also have to find a way to cut down on their turnovers.  If they play smart and feed Fernando early it will open up looks for the slick shooting freshman guard Aaron Wiggins whom has hit 9 of 18 from behind the arc over the teams last 3 games. 

Maryland is 3-0 ATS in their last three home games.  Give me Maryland to cover. Take care of the ball!

Pick: Maryland -6.5

Duke Blue Devils at Syracuse Orange

We all know Duke without Zion Williamson is going to cause some problems.  What is being ignored is that a healthy Tre Jones is back in the lineup for the Blue Devils.  In the first matchup his injury forced the Blue Devils to run the point with RJ Barrett and company.  With Jones as the helm Barrett will be free to work inside the Syracuse zone.  His ability to create at the top of the key will be a huge factor.  I assume Coach K will utilize one of his big’s in Zion’s spot, while that may be the game plan to start don’t be surprised to see a lot of sharp shooting sophomore Alex O’Connell. 

Syracuse shot lights out in the first matchup, Frank Howard will have the defense of Tre Jones hounding him all night which will lead to more turnovers not allowing the Orange to set their press.  Duke has the superior athletes even without Zion.  If utilized correctly they should cover the spread.

Pick: Duke -4.5

Other games I like:

Illinois/Penn State Under 145.5

MO State/ Indiana State Under 131.5

Purdue -5

Marquette -3

Texas +3.5

Kansas State -10.5

SLU +6.5

Midwest Region: Champions Classic Region

The Midwest Region will give us a matchup of blue blood teams.  Featuring three of the teams that participate in the Champions Classic at the beginning of the season.  Kansas, Duke and Michigan State will compete in a bracket that is clearly top heavy.  Matt Boeding and I looked at this region, we are ready to break it down!

First Round Upsets to watch: New Mexico State over Clemson, College of Charleston over Auburn, Kansas second round (Seriously)

Potential Bracket Buster: New Mexico State Aggies

Clemson had a great season, but they have been scuffling down the stretch, 3-5 in their last eight games. New Mexico State plays aggressive defense they are 6th in the nation in effective field goal percentage defense. New Mexico State has proven that they can hang with the power conferences this season. The Aggies upended Miami on Dec. 23 and fell by only five points to USC two days later. We saw recently in Clemson’s matchup with Virginia that they can be held in check on offense.  New Mexico State will bring it, Clemson will have to have a big performance from Gabe Davoe.  This will be our 12 over 5 upset.

Most Intriguing Potential Matchup: Duke Blue Devils vs The Fighting Trae Young’s

I am a believer that Oklahoma shouldn’t have made this tournament.  But they are in so who doesn’t want to see Trae Young vs, Marvin Bagley? Rhode Island might have a backcourt that can combine to rival Young’s offensive firepower. In Jared Terrell, the Rams have a first-team all-Atlantic 10 guard who can strain defenses by knocking down three-point shots, getting to the free-throw line and converting his attempts once there at a favorable rate. And at full strength, fellow senior E.C. Matthews gives Rhode Island another dangerous perimeter scorer. The Rams are going to have their hands full trying to contain Young, but Oklahoma also has to reckon with a big defensive challenge.  But when you have the dynamic talent of Trae Young you have to think that Young will overcome a Rhode Island team that we believe is a bit overrated.

Duke has had a problem with dominate guards for the last few seasons.Grayson Allen’s length will be an asset if Coach K decides to go man to man vs Oklahoma, but with Duke’s tendencies to switch on screens we may see a lot of Young vs Bagley which will be a problem for Marvin.  Duke should handle an Oklahoma team that is a one trick pony.  Still this game will be marketed through the roof.

Bracket Winner: Duke-Kansas

I know this isn’t a pick but we couldn’t agree on a winner of this bracket.  Kansas has looked dominate over the last few weeks.  There is no way the Jayhawks should have won the Big12 Tournament without Azubuike, but they did.  Devonte Graham is a true leader in college basketball, he can lead this team very far.

The problem I see with Kansas is Duke or Michigan State can be a tough matchup for them. The bigs will be dominate against KU.  Whether it is Bagley and Carter or Michigan States 20 different bigs they throw at you Kansas does not have the depth to handle the offensive skill sets.  I love a senior guard, I picked KU, Matt picked Duke.

 

 

 

Weekend Picks: Jan. 27 2018: Big Matchup and Big12/SEC Challenge

Football betting season will take a break this week as the masses will turn their attention to college basketball.  This weekend is full of great matchups highlighted by the Big12/Sec Challenge and a showdown of top 4 ACC teams.  We have picked out a few games that should be special this weekend. Enjoy!

Fighting Trae Young’s @ Alabama

In a battle of freshman studs.  Trae Young will lead the 12th ranked Sooners into Tuscaloosa on Saturday for a matchup with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Oklahoma’s super rookie is averaging mind-numbing figures of 30.5 points and 9.7 assists per game –both best in the nation. After showing signs of mortality, Young had an lead and efficient offensive effort Tuesday against the Kansas Jayhawks scoring 26point on 7/9  shooting. That said, the Sooners can’t just ride too hard on the shoulders of Young, who needs the likes of Christian James (11.9 points) and Brady Manek (11.1 points) to play a bigger role.

The Sooners are not up against Alabama football team’s stop unit, but the Crimson Tide basketball team’s defense is not something Trae Young and company should underestimate.  Alabama has the length and athleticisim to disrupt Young and force him to be perimeter oriented. The Crimson Tide are protected by a fantastic interior defense, as evidenced by their 6.3 blocks per game — good for fifth nationally. Like most SEC teams the Crimson Tide have been hard to figure out gaining wins over Texas A&M, Auburn and South Carolina but losing to bottom dwelling Ole Miss by double digits.

While the teams are both intriguing the best reason to watch will be the matchup of potential lottery picks Trae Young  and Colin Sexton.  Sexton quietly has been making his own mark on the college basketball scene.

I think Alabama come shuts down Young and pulls off the upset victory.  But I have been wrong about Oklahoma before.

 James Caldwell: Alabama      Matt Boeding: Oklahoma

Kentucky at West Virginia

The battle of the struggling hall of fame coaches takes place Saturday when John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats travel to  Morgantown to face off with Bob Huggins #7West Virginia Moutaineers .Unless you have been under a rock you may have heard that the Kentucky Wildcats have fallen out of the top 25 rankings for the first time since 2014.   What has flown under the radar is that West Virginia has now lost 3 of 4 in the ultra competitive Big12, showing little to no effort Tuesday night against TCU.

Kentucky ranks 55th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and 27th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. They’re a team that is no longer considered part of the national title conversation, which is troubling (and an outlier) when it comes to UK basketball. Calipari put together a team of positionless players that are having trouble figuring out their roles.  They will have to figure out who they are in a game that can factor into positioning in March.  Kentucky will have to find a toughness physically and mentally to pull off this upset.  Kentucky has more talent, West Virgnia has more experience.

James Caldwell: Kentucky   Matt Boeding: West Virginia

Virginia vs Duke

The matchup of the weekend takes place at Cameron Indoor on Saturday when the #2 Virginia Cavaliers meet #4 Duke Blue Devils.  Two top ranked teams battle for ACC supremecy, the immovable object meets the unstoppable force.

The Cavaliers have the best defense in the nation with opposing teams bleeding for just 52.4 points per game. Teams seem to shoot at a moving basket when they are up against Virginia, which limits opponents to only 36.6 field goal shooting percentage. Duke is going to be a tough assignment for the Cavs, but its not like Virginia has not dealt with a top-tier offensive team and came out successful. Virginia has already taken down North Carolina and NC State, both rank in the top four in ACC offensively.

As much we like to talk about how scary good the Cavaliers’ defense is, the truth is, it has not prevented Duke from beating the Cavaliers over the past few seasons. In fact, Duke has won eight of its last 10 dates with Virginia and it’s vaunted pack line defense, though they covered the spread in only three of those meetings. Duke Blue Devils come in riding a three game win streak in which they have woken up for long range.  Gary Trent Jr, Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval have seemed to find their stroke from deep, Trent most notably hitting an astounding 19 threes over the last four games.  Virginia is going to be forced to deal with the NBA froncourt of Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter.  If Virginia can limit the offensive rebounding of the Blue Devils they can effectively control the tempo.

Duke’s home court advantage will play a role in this one as the young Devils seemed to feed off the energy.  It would take a gargantuan effort for Virginia to limit Bagley, let alone Grayson Allen and the other Blue Devils’ gifted scorers.

James Caldwell: Duke   Matt Boeding: Duke

 

 

 

Key to success: Gary Trent Jr.

The Duke Blue Devils pulled off a miraculous comeback Monday night against the Miami Hurricanes.  While multiple factors lead to the Miami meltdown, it was freshman Shooting Guard Gary Trent Jr.  that provided the consistency and leadership normally seen by upperclassman.

The Apple Valley, Minnesota native carried the Blue Devils scoring 30 points while shooting 6 of 9 from three point range.  Trent Jr.’s sharpshooting was the lone highlight offensively for the first 30 minutes of the Monday’s ACC showdown. While fellow freshman phenom’s like Marvin Bagley and Wendall Carter tend to steal the headlines it has been Trent Jr.’s consistent play that has been the backbone of the Duke frontline.  Grayson Allen and Trevon Duvall continue to be inconsistent on both ends of the court, while Trent Jr. continues to be the most reliable guard option for Coach K. Trent  Jr. brings the skill and poise of a veteran, with 1:23 left in the game Miami down 73-70 Trent Jr. was the one that stepped into a top of the key three and sealed the deal for the Blue Devils.  His ability to sink a shot of that magnitude without a second thought was a defining moment in the still young season.  It is time for Duke to utilize their dynamic shooting guard in new roles.

As ACC play continues to intensify Duke will have to have better guard play, with Grayson Allen’s jumper a complete mess and Trevon Duvall’s poor decision making, Trent Jr. will have to be the player Duke relies on in clutch situations.  When Duvall gets in his own head Coach K has to move Trent Jr. to the point if he wants this young team to make a real impact in March.  While Trent Jr. may be more effective play the contrary role in the offense, his level headed decision making can be an asset when things begin to unravel.  The movement to the point can allow fellow shooters freshman Alex O’Connell and Grayson Allen play their more familiar roles.

Gary Trent Jr. won’t be the highest draft pick on this Duke team, he may not have the best career, but he brings so much intelligence to the game of basketball.  In today’s basketball sharpshooters with length have become the new blue print of success, he may not stay at Duke for as long as he should but if he does give the fans a chance to watch him develop we could see a guy that becomes one of the best Duke players of all time.

 

 

Please free Jah! Top 3 Destinations

2015 National Champion, First Team All- American, ACC Player of the Year, 3rd Overall NBA Draft Pick, All Rookie-First Team.  On accolades alone, it hints at a player that should be able to find minutes in the NBA. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia 76ers disagree.  Jahlil Okafor entered the 2018 season understanding the idea that his minutes would be cut down…but no one could have imagined how drastically. As the Sixers prepare for their 24th game of the season,  the former Duke star has only competed in two games.  Sixers management also informed Okafor that they would not pick up his 4th year option. A team that has finally found direction, has in turn, changed the direction of Okafor’s career. There is a place for a 21-year-old post player, even in today’s NBA landscape.

Option 1: Chicago Bulls

As a Chicago High School phenom, Jahlil Okafor would be a perfect fit if the Sixers sent him back home. The Bulls currently have the worst PPG in the paint in the entire league, while also sporting one of the worst rosters in the league.  Okafor would fit in nicely with the Bulls one shining light, stretch four and rookie Lauri Markkanen.  Markkanen and PG Kris Dunn are likely the only untouchables on the roster, lending the Sixers the ability to have their “pick of the litter”.  While the Bulls are looking at a long rebuild ahead they could really use a “face of the franchise” type guy. Okafor has that potential…oh, and a top 3 draft pick wont hurt either.

Option 2: Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota is a bit farfetched with a coach like Tom Thibodeau. Tommy T is known to display a short fuse with players that seem to have a problem playing defense.  That being said, Thibodeau is a defensive mastermind that could potentially find a way to utilize Okafor’s length.

Karl Anthony-Towns’ face up game would match well with Okafor on the weak side as an offensive rebounder. Coming off the bench, Okafor would provide scoring potential in the middle, opening up the 3-point line for veteran sharp-shooter Jamal Crawford.  Oh, don’t forget about the potential of reuniting him with his old Blue Devil buddy Tyus Jones.  Jones and Okafor have a shared NCAA National Title. Could they bring similar success to a playoff hungry city?

Option 3: Boston Celtics

The Celtics are built around young talent, but after the devastating injury to Gordon Hayward they lack a consistent second scoring option.  Rookie Jayson Tatum has emerged earlier than expected, while veteran Al Horford continues to be a strong force in the middle. The addition of a post scorer with the ability to put the ball in the basket on every touch can be an asset for a team with serious championship thoughts.

Brad Stevens has found a way to get the most out of every player on his roster. Utilizing the strengths of a player like Okafor would be a coaches dream with that young roster.  It would be fun to see Okafor in a game that has some meaning.  The Celtics still have movable assets , but at this point in the season this one could be a long shot.

Conclusion:

The Sixers will most likely just wait for Okafor’s contract to expire. At 21-years-old he still has plenty of time to take his career in the right direction.  It is just a shame he has to waste a prime developing year with an organization that has been so openly disrespectful to him. Keep doing the right thing Jah. You will be set free.