NCAAB November: 41-32-1, (56.16%) +5.8 Units
NCAAB December: 31-48-1, (39.24%) -21.8 Units
NCAAB January: 45-51-1, (46.88%) -11.1 Units
NCAAB February: 56-49-2, (53.33%) +2.1 Units
NCAAB March: 3-1-0, (75.00%) +1.9 Units
A strong start to March going 3-1 and now have a nice little run of 21-13-1 in my last 35 plays going. Overall it’s been a frustrating season, but I truly do feel good about the way things are going right now and I feel like I’m capping pretty well. All I can do now is close strong. Here’s what I have for Thursday….
Houston (+8): Cincy is comfortably in the tournament and there’s really nothing that can happen here out that will change that. Houston however is probably on the outside looking in right now and desperately in need of a big win to boost their resume. That’s exactly the chance they get here at Cincy and therefore we’re likely looking at a max effort showing. Houston has won 7 of 8 so it’s clear they are playing well and peaking at the right time, they just need one final nudge to get the attention of the selection committee. Make no mistake if they win this game people will notice. Now lets talk match up a bit. Cincy is pure hell to score on inside. On the year they rank 3rd in the nation allowing opponents to only shoot 40.3% from 2 point land. They also only allow opponents to score 46.5% of their points from 2 point land, which ranks as the 287th lowest total in the nation. In other words you just aren’t going to beat them down low. Luckily for Houston they don’t have much interest in beating you down low, they want to shoot in from deep. As a team they shoot it at 39.8% from 3 which is 13th best in the nation, and they score 34.3% of their total points from deep which is well above average too. Overall the Cats are still excellent defensively but if they are vulnerable from anywhere it’s from 3 and that’s where Houston thrives. Houston also is great at protecting the ball as their offensive turnover rate is 7th best in the nation. If nothing else they should be able to get into their sets and let Gray, Dotson, and VanBeck cast away from deep. They’ll just need to cash in enough of those 3 balls to hang around, I’ll take my chances that they do.
Wisconsin (-11): By now you guys know I love situational spots. Sometimes you get teams playing a bit over their head who are due for a reality check. Sometimes you get teams that are struggling and due to bounce back a bit. In this game we’ve got one of each. Last week Iowa had nice wins over Indiana and then Maryland in what was arguably their best week of the season. On the other hand Wisconsin has lost 4 of their last 5 after starting the year 21-3. This is one is simple enough, I think Iowa comes back to earth and that Wisconsin bounces back and takes out a little frustration on the Hawkeyes. I still think the Badgers are a very solid team and I’m not going to give up on them after this recent rough patch. Simply enough I’m just banking on regression to the mean for both squads here and that result would be an easy double digit Badgers win. Style wise this is a horrible match up for Iowa as they like to play fast. They play to the 43rd fastest tempo in the nation and average roughly 72 possessions per game. Wisconsin flat out just won’t allow that to happen. The Badgers rank 333rd in adjusted tempo and have only played 2 games that have gone into the 70’s in regulation all year, and even those two were only 71 and 70. It’s just as simple as that, you can’t run on Wisconsin, you can’t speed them up, it just doesn’t happen. A team like Iowa thrives when they run and struggles when forced to play a half court style game. This game is just all kinds of bad news for the Hawkeyes and to be frank, I think they get smoked.
Utah (-2.5): Here we are in March now and California still only has 3 road wins all season. Two of which came against Arizona State and Oregon State so those barely even count. The other was against a solid USC team, but the point being is we’re in March and this team still hasn’t really proved anything on the road. Hard to believe that’s the case for a team that’s still contending for a tournament bid. Utah in my opinion is better than USC and would be Cal’s biggest road of the year if they can get it, which I don’t think they can. Cal is a very good defensive team, but far too often things are clunky for them on the offensive end. Utah has more fire power on offense and is really good down low, which is where Cal’s defense is a bit vulnerable. Utah only has 3 home losses this season and they’ve come to Butler, UCLA and Oregon. Cal just isn’t in that class and I don’t think they’ve got what it takes to go win this game at altitude with that shaky offense.