The Baylor Bears got back on track this week covering the spread in OT versus West Virginia on Monday night. Baylor was able to lock up the Big 12 title and do it in a tough situation after a loss and of course a long covid pause to the season. The Bears are the third most efficient offensive team in college basketball. They are led by Jerad Butler, Macio Teague and Davion Mitchell, all average double digits, led by Butler’s 16.9 ppg. Baylor has multiple scorers and thrives from deep. They have been tested twice this week and will be tested again in this matchup.
The Ok State Cowboys are as hot as any time in the country. Sweeping a series with their rivals the Oklahoma Sooners. They are 4-0 ATS in their last four games and are in a prime spot to make a statement leading into the BIG12 tournament. Everyone knows about Cade Cunningham but it is the rest of the young roster that has been stepping up for Ok State. Avery Anderson has put up 16, 15 and 11 over their last three upset victories over Oklahoma (2) and Texas Tech. His ability to penetrate the defense has been a nightmare for opposing defenses that are forced to leave him one on one with the threat of Cade Cunningham looming. The outside shooting of Bryce Williams has also opened up the interior for the OK State slashers like Kalib Boone. The Cowboys consistently attack the interior averaging offensive rebounds at a 31% clip. They are relentless and it usually leads to free throws or tip ins. The Baylor Bears don’t have a lot of weaknesses but they can be exposed on the defensive glass. In their last two games the Bear were outrebounded by 20 versus Kansas and by 5 versus West Virginia.
The first matchup between these two teams saw Baylor was able to pull out the victory over Ok State without Cade Cunningham 81-66. Baylor was leading by just 4 at half before pulling away in the second half. The second half is where you saw how badly the Cowboys were missing Cade Cunningham who thrives downt he stretch of games. The Cowboys with Cunningham are facing a Baylor team that has had two hard fought matchups with Kansas and West Virginia and is in for another one Thursday night. This line seems like it is leaning more on the first matchup rather than the talent on the court. The Cowboys have been great on the road this year going 6-3-1 ATS, they can match the Bears.
Play of the day: Oklahoma StateCowboys +12
The Horizon League tournament is continuing Tuesday night with a matchup of one of my favorite teams the Detroit Titans versus the Northern Kentucky Norse.
Detroit is on a 11-2 run over their last 13 games after a dreadful start to the season. The offense has been the story for the Titans, they are averaging 76 ppg on the season. They have put up at least 80 points in 6 of their last 7 games. They are led by arguably the best guard in the Horizon League in Antoine Davis. Davis put on a show inthe first round of the Horizon tournament scoring 46 points against Robert Morris. He leads an offensive that has an effective field goal percentage of 54.7% and as a team they are one of the top free throw shooting teams in college basketball shooting an astounding 80% from the line.
Northern Kentucky has an efficient offense of their own, ranking 139th in the nation in offensive efficiency. The Norse are strong on the inside averaging 54% from inside the arc and average a 34% offensive rebound rate. Their advantage on the inside will allow them to score against a mediocre Detroit defense. The Norse feature guards Trevon Faulkner and and Marquiss Walker, both have the ability to penetrate the defense and get easy buckets.
This game features two teams that are efficient on the offensive end while lacking the ability to get consistent stops on defense. The Detroit offense will set the tone behind Antoine Davis and try and get this game to a more uptempo pace. This being a conference tournament game means we will likely see a lot of fouling at the end which plays in perfectly for the over. Detroits ability to his outside shots and put away teams on the free throw line should lead to a victory and a higher scoring matchup. I am leaning towards Detroit at -1.5 but my favorite play is the over.
Play of the day: Over 146 (Like Detroit -1.5)
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 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 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
A Big10 matchup with two teams going in the opposite directions will meet on Wednesday night when the Rutgers Scarlet Knights take on the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Scarlet Knights have won four straight games and now find themselves back in the top 25. Rutgers is a strong defensive team, ranking 17th in Kenpom in defensive efficiency. The return of big man Cliff Omoruyi has added to the depth in the middle, along with starter Myles Johnson they should be able to make trouble for Iowa star Luka Garza. On the offensive end Rutgers has a litany of talent that makes them unpredictable at times. Ron Harper Jr. leads the team in scoring averaging 16 ppg. He is one of four that average double digits along with Montez Mathis, Jacob Young and Gio Baker. They really spread out the scoring and it showed in their first matchup with the Hawkeyes with five players scoring 13 points or moreAs a team the Rutgers offense averages 68 ppg but they are extremely efficient in getting those points. They are a top 50 team in offensive efficiency.
Iowa has not lived up to the preseason potential. The offense is still elite, ranking 3rd in the nation in scoring, averaging 87 ppg. Iowa did a lot of that damage against some of the lesser competition in college basketball. They have had an issue with some of the more athletic teams in college basketball. Indiana gave them trouble on the defensive end, doubling down on Garza as much as they could and forcing it out of his hands. The potential return of CJ Fredrick could help with the outlet passes that can lead to points. Iowa will find points but their problems on defense are impossible to ignore. They are currently giving up 74 points per game on the season ranking 279th in the nation.
Iowa is the superior team on offense, but they have an issue with turnovers and consistency. Garza put up 25 in their first matchup shooting 9 for 11. Rutgers played that game without Cliff Omoruyi, his addition will create more havoc for Garza. Keegan Murray stepped up in their last matchup, he is the only player on Iowa that can match the athleticism of Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights will keep this game close. Seven points in this matchup is too much for two teams that are going in opposite directions.
Play of the day: Rutgers Scarlet Knights +7