NCAAB Yesterday: 0-0, (0.00%) +0.0 Units
NCAAB Season: 27-25-1, (51.92%) -0.5 Units
No plays since an easy winner with Monmouth on Friday and now ready to get back in there today. Typically this time of year is when I start to heat up so I’m hoping that trend continues this January. Here’s what I’ve got tonight…
VCU (-8): Duquesne is long overdue for a come back to earth game and I think it comes tonight. The Dukes are 12-4 but have padded that record against the easiest schedule in the nation. They rank 351st out of 351 D1 teams in strength of schedule so far this season. Tonight’s game will be only their 2nd road game of the season and it’ll be the first time all year they’ve faced a team ranked inside the Ken Pom top 100. The biggest issue for Duquesne so far this year has been their interior defense. 59.6% of their opponents points are from 2 point land which is the 5th highest total in the nation. They don’t have much size at all and this bodes well for a guy like Tillman. Realistically there’s nobody on the Dukes roster that should be able to guard Tillman. The first option would be Robinson but he’s not nearly quick enough, for that matter neither is Brown. They could try Verhoeven but that’s a tall task to ask a Freshman like him to go guard a Senior stud like Tillman on the road. I’m also expecting some serious regression on Duquesne’s 3 point defense. As a team they allow opponents to shoot only 28% from 3 point land which is 4th best in the nation. I think a lot of that however is due to just playing bad teams. VCU shoots it at nearly 37% from deep and this seems as good a time as any for that fools gold 28% defense to start coming back to earth as well. In addition to Tillman who not only can beat you inside but shoots it at 44% from 3, VCU has Jenkins and Crowfield who are very good 3 point shooters. Lastly is the issue of pace. I think VCU will be able to speed up Duquesne a bit and get them out of their game and comfort zone. Once the pace speeds up things get even tougher for a Dukes team that flat out just isn’t built to play fast. They haven’t played a game at over 68 possessions since before Thanksgiving so the faster VCU can get this thing the worse things get for the Dukes. At the end of the day this feels like a comfortable double digit win for the Rams.
Marquette (PK): I’m going to challenge Seton Hall to pull off back to back road wins against Butler and Marquette here. Marquette is led by what’s probably the most explosive back court in the nation with Howard and Rowsey. Those two combine for 44.5 points per game and both shoot it at over 40% from 3 point land. Not to mention they are a combined 140-150 (93.3%) from the FT line. These two are an absolute nightmare to deal with and they’ll be as dangerous as any guard duo Seton Hall sees this season. It’s also worth pointing out the weapon they have with Hauser as a stretch 4. He’s shooting it at 48.4% from 3 point land and averages 14 points per game in his own right. So when all your attention is on containing Howard and Rowsey, Hauser just camps out in open spaces and bombs 3’s all night. As you can probably tell by now this team offensively is very elite. They rank 14th in offensive efficiency, 14th in effective FG%, 19th in 3 point %, 10th in FT%, and they do this all without turning the ball over much. Now this play isn’t really to pick on or fade Seton Hall. The Pirates very well could be a sweet 16 team this year I just think it’s extremely difficult to hit the road and beat teams like Butler and Marquette in back to back games. They pulled off the win at Butler over the weekend despite being down 11 with 10 minutes left. There’s no denying the Pirates have a size advantage especially in the back court. The already mentioned duo of Rowsey and Howard are both only 5’11” and will be giving away size to Carrington and Powell. I do however think they’ve got too much quickness for the Pirates guards to handle. Delgado is a handful down low but Heldt has really improved this year and he’s a big body that I think can at least keep him under control. One thing that could also hurt Seton Hall in what figures to be a close game tonight is their brutal FT shooting. I already mentioned how great of a FT shooting team Marquette is and that’s a huge advantage down the stretch in close games. The Pirates on the other hand only shoot 66% from the line. I’m not expecting a blowout here or anything but ultimately I think Marquettes firepower and crowd will end up being too much for the Hall to handle. 5-7 point win for the Golden Eagles sounds about right to me.
Michigan (+1.5): A very tough road test for Purdue tonight as they head to Ann Arbor to take on the Wolverines. For as good as Purdue is winning at Michigan is a very tough task. Michigan will grind this game down to a snails pace and force Purdue into a kind of game they’d rather not play. The average length of an offensive possession for Purdue is 15.4 seconds which is 33rd fastest in the nation. Michigan however is 319th in length of opposing teams possessions. In short their defense really gets into you and doesn’t allow many quick, open looks. They are an excellent defensive rebounding team and they basically punt offensive rebounding as they’d rather make sure they get back on defense and prevent any transition points off missed shots. As was the case last season Michigan is really choking off the 3 point line. Opponents are only scoring 25.9% of their points from 3 which is 314th in the nation. Purdue shoots it at nearly 41% from 3 so the Wolverines ability to suffocate the 3 point line is a big plus in this match up. Now the elephant in the room is of course Haas who is a mountain of a man. I think this is the kind of game Beilein will challenge Haas to go nuts and beat him rather than opening up the 3 point line for the army of 3 point shooters the Boilers have. As far as when Michigan has the ball it’s business as usual. Long sets, methodical offense, very few turnovers, and at the end of most possessions an open shot attempt. While overall I’ll admit Purdue is the better team, I’ve got a ton of respect for Beilein and his squad, especially at home. I think they pull off the mild upset tonight.
I have one more but am out of time today for a write up on it…
A 4 play card today which is one of my biggest of the year for weekday. Hopefully will be a fun ride, good luck to those who tail.