Should be back to the regular routine of posting plays with write ups starting again today. Did some traveling last week for the Holiday and as a result volume was far lower than usual. Happy to be back at it and hopefully a winning day today to get things back going in the right direction, here’s what I have….
Nevada (-4.5): I know Loyola-Chicago was a great story making the final 4 last season and that’s still fresh in a lot of peoples minds. They’ll still probably be around 20 wins or so again this season but the simple truth is this team isn’t to the level last years was. Custer and Townes are both back which is huge but gone are guys like Richardson, Jackson and Ingram. They are off to a 4-2 start this year and frankly I just don’t think they have the athletes or experience to handle the Pack here. Outside of Custer and Townes just about everyone else on the roster is a Freshman or Sophomore and size wise they are going to be completely overmatched. The Wolf Pack are the 2nd most experienced team in the nation and it’s all over the roster. The Martin twins are now both Seniors as is Caroline who is one of the more hard-nosed players in the nation. Think of him as a Draymond Green type if you don’t watch much Nevada hoops. On top of that trio who lead the way are a trio of incoming transfers as now on the scene are Porter from Old Dominion, Thurman from Nebraska-Omaha, and Johnson from Portland. As far as experience goes the rich get richer on that front as Porter and Thurman are Seniors and Johnson is a Junior. In fact with the exception of Brown who is seeing decent playing time, everyone in the rotation is a junior or senior. Offensively they’ve been pure hell to deal with as they are #1 in the nation in efficiency. Obviously they can shoot and light up the scoreboard but they do it with a very low turnover rate. They protect the ball, they have elite size, elite talent, and the already mentioned incredible amount of experience. That’s already enough to get me on this play with a line of only 4.5, but on top of all that we have the elephant in the room, that one point win the Ramblers had over Nevada last year in the sweet 16. In that game Nevada thought they were cruising into the elite 8 as they opened up an early 12 point lead but then saw the Ramblers fight back and win a nail biter. Now to say the leaders of this team (the Martins and Caroline) want revenge would be quite the understatement. This team is the total package to begin with and I’d argue top 5 in the nation overall, tonight throw in the angry revenge angle to boot and I think they win by double digits.
Montana State (+1.5): This one is more of a North Dakota fade than it is a Montana State play. The Fighting Hawks are off to a 4-2 start but don’t let that fool you. 3 of those 4 wins are against non D-1 teams and the other is against a very bad Milwaukee team. In their other two games they were not surprisingly dismantled by Kentucky and then lost by 6 to Utah Valley. To be frank about it this isn’t a team that should be favored on the road against much of anyone. Both teams work at a very methodical pace offensively and this figures to be a fairly ugly basketball game in general. Each team is well below average in terms of offensive efficiency and when you factor in the slow pace under 149.5 looks very good. That is until you look at the defenses and realize they aren’t any good either. The truth here is we have two flawed and well below average basketball teams. In a game such as this home floor means a lot to me for the simple fact that bad teams just don’t win on the road that often. Last year North Dakota was 2-14 on the road and it’s just way too appealing to get a chance to fade them as road chalk. As far as on the court goes it’s Hall and Frey that lead the way for the Bobcats. Frey is a Junior who handles things at the point, and Hall is a 3 that is pretty clearly their best player. A ton of the offense is run through Hall and I can’t really see anyone on the Fighting Hawks roster that should be able to check him. Guys like Brown and Moody are too small and Walter and Avants are both too slow. It’ll be interesting to see what Jones comes up with but Hall is pretty much option A, B and C for this Bobcats offense. They love to shoot the 3 and most of that is Hall and Ricketts. Those two are combining for 17.3 3 point attempts per game, and no that isn’t a typo. Frey while not quite that yet this season is also a very good 3 point shooter and if he’s feeling it that’s 3 legit threats from deep that NDU will need to deal with. Montana State probably only wins 10 games or so this year but there’s really no reason this shouldn’t be one of them. I’m not expecting it to be pretty but they should get a W.
Montana State (+1.5)