NCAAB January 16th

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NCAAB Yesterday: 0-0, (0.00%) +0.0 Units
NCAAB Season: 37-33-1, (52.82%) +0.7 Units

A frustrating 4-6 day on Saturday with some close beats that didn’t go our way. After taking Sunday and Monday off I’ll look to get back on track today. Here’s what I’ve got…

Vanderbilt (+4): I went 0-2 backing Vandy last week in their home losses against Tennessee and Kentucky, both of which were games I felt they should’ve won. They had a double digit second half lead against Tennessee that they gave away and were tied with 5 minutes left against Kentucky before things got weird. Including 0-4 at the FT line by LaChance who is a career 84% shooter from the stripe. Overall Vandy sits at an ugly 6-11 but I think they are much better than that record indicates. Despite that poor showing down the stretch the other day LaChance is still a very solid player and a good leader as a Senior PG. Along with fellow Seniors Fisher-Davis and Roberson Vandy has plenty of experience and guys who have played in many big games. Lee has emerged nicely as a solid Freshman and again despite what the record shows there’s still plenty of talent on this roster. Mississippi State cruised to a 12-1 non conference record but I chalk that up mostly to the 345th toughest non conference schedule in the nation. Outside of a game with Cincy (that they of course lost) they didn’t play anyone but cupcakes in the non conference so that 12-1 record doesn’t really impress me. Since hitting SEC play the Dogs are 1-3 and have gotten a bit of a reality check. The Bulldogs have a nice defensive squad but there are major issues on the offensive end. As a team they are 185th in offensive efficiency, 347th in 3 point %, 330th in FT %, and 264th in turnover rate. There just isn’t much firepower on this team at all and they really struggle to shoot unless they are getting point blank looks. Each team is coming off 3 straight losses so motivation and how badly they need a W should be pretty much even. To me this comes down to the better offensive team with more experience and 4 points in my back pocket. That’s good enough for me.

Northern Iowa (-6.5): It’s been a tale of two seasons so far for Northern Iowa. The Panthers started the season 8-2, then lost 7 in a row and now might be back on track after a home win over Valpo on Saturday. What I like about Northern Iowa is that they’ve tested themselves with the 25th toughest schedule in the nation so far this year and that better prepares them for games like tonight. The Panthers will hit you with a Virginia like tempo as they rank 349th in the nation in adjusted tempo, or in other words the 3rd slowest tempo. They don’t have a ton going on offensively but they are a borderline top 50 team in adjusted defensive efficiency. Drake is pretty shaky on the defensive end and especially so down low. That’s where Koch comes in as this figures to be a very nice match up for the Panthers Senior leader. There really isn’t anyone on the Drake roster that should be able to guard Koch and this is the kind of game he could go for 20 and 10. I also like the match up for Pickford tonight as he’s too big and strong for guys like Arogundade, Rivers, and Gibbs. Here in lies the major problem for Drake, they are one of the shortest teams in the nation. They should be ok in the back court but in addition to the already mentioned friendly match ups for Koch and Pickford they realistically don’t have anyone who can guard Carlson either. Not to over simplify this game or anything but last I checked being tall in basketball is a good thing and Northern Iowa should be able to take advantage of their size edge down low both scoring and on the glass. This feels like a double digit win for them tonight at home.

Kansas State (+2): Everyone has fallen in love with Trae Young and the Sooners lately. On paper a top 5 team only laying 2 points against a non ranked K-State team seems almost like free money right? Well I’m not so sure. When you look at the Sooners obviously it all begins and ends with Young. There’s no denying he’s a special talent and his numbers look like something you’d be more likely to see in a video game rather than actual D1 college hoops. With Young at the helm OU loves to play fast and right now at the 3rd fastest tempo in the nation they are doing just that. Tonight the name of the game for K-State will be to do whatever they can to slow the tempo. As a team they currently check in at 324th in adjusted tempo and are exactly the kind of team Oklahoma doesn’t want to see. The Big-12 is absolutely stacked this year and there aren’t going to be any easy road wins anywhere. K-State while not as explosive as the Sooners are no slouches offensively in their own right. As a team they are 23rd in offensive efficiency, 40th in effective FG%, 44th in turnover rate, and 25th in 2 point shooting %. The task of matching up with Young for most of the night anyways will fall to Brown. That’s good news for the Cats as at least Brown will make Young work on the defensive end as he’s Kansas State’s best offensive weapon. A player as good as Young will ultimately find a way to get his because that’s what elite players do but at least he’ll have to work on the defensive end and be forced into longer possessions on the offensive end. Not having Stokes in a game like this no doubt hurts but with Brown, Wade and Snead there is still a respectable amount of fire power on this K-State squad. At the end of the day I don’t care how good you are, going into Manhattan and coming out with a road win is a very tough task. Kansas State figures to be a bubble tournament team this year and games like this where you have a chance to really build your resume are huge. I like the Cats to pull off what to most would be a huge upset tonight but to me won’t even be all that surprising.

South Carolina (+1): I’m going to take another shot at fading Kentucky on the road. The Cats are only 2-1 on the road so far this year and in both wins I felt LSU and Vandy should’ve had them beat and let them off the hook. South Carolina is pretty mediocre as a team offensively but as is typically the case with Frank Martin teams, they can really defend. They are 17th in defensive efficiency and that’s where they hang their hat. They are long, athletic, pressure the ball, force a ton of turnovers and rebound very well. Kentucky as we all know is very young and not surprisingly they’ve been turning the ball over way too much. That’s going to be the Gamecocks biggest edge tonight. A high pressure defense against a team that turns it over far too often. If they can pressure the Cats into the mid-high teens in turnovers that’s going to go a long way towards winning this game. South Carolina doesn’t have the star power that UK does but they are pretty balanced with 7 players who play between 20 and 27 minutes a game. Martin isn’t afraid to use his bench and that’s important for him as it keeps fresh legs on the floor and that allows them to keep up their get inside your jersey defensive mentality. We all now Kentucky has the talent edge but it’s pretty much Freshman across the board and winning road games is no easy task. As I said LSU had them beat and you could easily argue Vandy should’ve beat them too. It’s too early to tell if UK deserves the benefit of the doubt for winning those games or if they were just gifts that were handed to them. Tonight I’ll put them to the test to find a way to win on the road again and if they can do it I’ll tip my cap and take the loss.

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