NCAAB Yesterday: 0-0, (0.00%) +0.0 Units
NCAAB Season: 25-21-1, (54.34%) +1.9 Units
A low volume season so far with only 47 plays, but at over 54% I’m happy with how things have gone to this point. After the holidays and doing some travel I’m ready to get back in there and tackle conference play. Here’s what I’ve got tonight….
George Washington (+1): On the surface everything looks nice with Duquesne this season. They are 10-4, they’ve won 8 of their last 9 and all is rolling along perfectly. Then you take a look at strength of schedule “351”…. yes that 351 out of 351 division 1 teams. Dead last. They’ve already played 6 teams that are ranked 303 or lower in Ken Pom and haven’t played any that are ranked higher than 139. To say their schedule has been soft is a massive understatement. Even despite these horribly bad opponents they are only 213th in defensive efficiency and 193rd in offensive efficiency. GW will have a big time size advantage tonight and I expect them to do some work in the paint. Duquesne has struggled inside all year allowing opponents to score 57% of their points from 2 point land while scoring only 43% of their own points from 2. In other words they don’t generate much scoring inside and they give up a ton. Tonight guys like Watanabe, Steeves and Toro all at 6’8″ or taller could really give them trouble. In the back court at 6’4″ Bolden could be a problem too as he’s bigger and stronger than any guard on the Duquesne roster. I also like the fact that GW has already tested themselves quite a bit this season. They’ve played 6 games against teams in the Ken Pom top 75 and 5 against the the top 45. Frankly after seeing opponents like that life seems a little easier when facing the likes of Duquesne. At the end of the day GW is bigger, stronger, battle tested and despite what the records say I believe just flat out better than Duquesne. I’ll happily take them getting a point here.
Wake Forest (-1.5): Cuse is off to a nice 12-2 start but this will be only their 2nd road game of the year and they were lucky as hell to win the first one. Last month they won that one road game at Georgetown despite being down 13 with 10 minutes left. At that point they were about a 5% win probability and took advantage of the Hoyas melting down late. Tonight they’ll get what I already mentioned is only the 2nd road game they’ve had all season. By now everyone knows the drill with Syracuse. They’ll play their zone, they won’t really give you anything at all inside, but if you can shoot 3’s on them you’ll have success. One thing you can take the bank is Cuse is going to let you attempt/force you to attempt a ton of 3 pointers. Problem for them tonight is that Wake shoots it at 38.7% from 3 point land. Wake isn’t going to set the world on fire this year or anything but there are no easy road wins in the ACC. Wake has lost 2 straight coming into this one so to be back at home for their first conference home game of the season you know they’ll be plenty fired up. It also helps the Deacs that one of their biggest weaknesses could go unexploited tonight. As a team they allow opponents to shoot 39.4% from 3 point land and 40.7% of the point they allow are from 3, that’s the 6th highest total in the nation. The good news however is that Cuse only shoots 30% from 3 and only score 22.7% of their points from deep. It’s always a nice thing when one of your biggest flaws as a team is one the other team isn’t really built to take advantage of. Overall this feels like a nice match up for Wake and I think they pull of a 6-8 point win or so.
LSU (+2.5): It’s the same story for Kentucky as it always is. A ton of talent, no experience at all, and a squad of pretty much all Freshman at one and done U. Tonight will be the first road game for Coach Cal’s latest group of one and done kids when they take on LSU. The Tigers are actually led by a Freshman of their own with they incredibly talented Waters. Waters is a point guard that’s lightning fast and can shoot it very well from 3 point land. In addition to his scoring he also averages 6.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game. I’ll admit the Tigers have some issues at the defensive end but their offense is really impressive. They are 25th in offensive efficiency, 8th in effective FG%, 20th in offensive rebounding rate, and on top of all that they don’t turn the ball over much. Tonight the test will be on defense and in particular down in the paint. Kentucky only scores 19.8% of their points from 3 point land which is 348th in the nation, which is to say that for the most part they don’t even really bother shooting 3’s. That is of course relative to the rest of the college basketball world. Defensively LSU will let you attempt plenty of 3’s but despite their overall defensive woes they’ve actually been pretty stout inside. Reath, Sims and Epps are decent enough shot blockers and protect the rim pretty well. Of course at the end of the day you can’t deny the talent level of the Cats, but this is their first road game as a group. Ultimately they’ll learn some lessons tonight that should help them later in the season, but in the short term they should have a real battle on their hands. I’m not sure LSU pulls off the win but getting 2.5 points in a game I expect to come right down to the wire is good enough for me.