NCAAB Yesterday: 0-0, (0.00%) +0. Units
NCAAB Season: 24-20-1, (54.55%) +2.0 Units
Things have been a little slow lately in college hoops with the holiday break for students and of course my amount of plays has tailed off. Today however with some conference games out there I’m ready to jump back in there. Here’s what I’ve got….
Marquette (+3): Xavier is 12-1 and has worked their way all the way up to #6 in the polls. It’s no secret they are a good team. Sweet 16 good, maybe even elite 8 good or better. Tonight however they’ve got a pretty tough test at Marquette. As was the case last year Wojo’s squad has one of my favorite and best offenses in the nation. Leading the way is the back court duo of Howard and Rowsey who combine for 42.5 points per game. They can both shoot it from 3, they can both penetrate, both get to the FT line a lot, and both are elite FT shooters. Tonight they’ll see bigger guards when facing Goodin and Macura but quickness wise I think they still have an edge. Frankly I don’t know if there’s a player on Xavier’s roster that can stay in front of Howard and I’m not really sure what they do with Macura. I love Macura as a player overall but I’m not sure which one of these guys he attempts to check. Realistically you aren’t going to zone a team that shoots as well as Marquette and there’s no chance Macura can guard Howard so I just don’t know where he goes. Rowsey isn’t as explosive as Howard is but still I think he’s a handful for Macura if things shake out that way. Xavier is plenty deep this year as on most nights Mack sticks to a 9 man rotation, at the end of the day Bluiett is still the guy that makes them tick with some grit, gut, and scrappy play from his senior buddy Macura. Tonight it’s going to have be Anim that steps up and takes on the challenge of slowing down Bluiett. Physically he’s the best option that Wojo has to put on Bluiett and he’ll just have to keep him under control. Realistically he won’t be able to shut him down but if he only goes for lets say 14 to 16 points or so that’s fine for Marquette. At the end of the day for as good as Xavier is winning road conference games against good teams is really, really hard. Marquette has a ton of firepower and I’ll think they’ll be more than ready to go tonight. While ranking wise (unranked team beating #6 in the nation) it’ll look like a big upset the truth is a Marquette win here wouldn’t be shocking at all. Nor would it frankly really hurt Xavier in the grand scheme of things either. Should be a fun game.
New Mexico (-11): Might as well just jump right into by saying despite what that 6-6 Air Force record could lead you to believe they are a really, really bad team. They and San Jose State are clearly the two bottom feeders in the MWC this year and I think conference play starts roughly for them tonight. Despite one of the easiest non conference schedules in the nation Air Force still has offensive numbers that are flat out putrid. 297th in offensive efficiency, 322nd in effective FG%, 284th in turnover rate, 314th in 3 point %, 301st in 2 point %. To be totally honest this is an offense that does nothing well. They play at a snail slow pace and most possessions end in turnovers or contested shots, it’s not pretty. Defensively the aren’t athletic enough to play man all the time so they play some zone and when that happens they’ve been getting torched from 3 point land. Again I remind this is torched from 3 against very weak competition. The Lobos have flaws of their own but one thing they do is shoot a ton of 3’s. As a team they’ve scored 41.8% of their points from 3 point land which is 20th in the nation. They’ll be chucking 3’s from the time they step on the court and against this Air Force defense that’s usually a very good thing. Another edge they have is that they force a ton of turnovers. With a 23.6% turnover rate their defense is 18th best in the nation in that area. I already mentioned Air Force and their crazy turnover problems as an offense so it should help the Lobos to find some hidden possessions in the turnover battle. This one could turn into a blowout and I suspect that it will.