With a very busy weekend now in the rear view we now try to settle back into a normal routine as we get a new week going with the Monday card. Actually a respectable slate of games to work with compared to a normal Monday, also today I’m able to post full write ups with my plays again. All that said, here we go…
Longwood/Northern Illinois Un 139: Two below average teams here both in terms of pace and offensive efficiency. We’ll start with Longwood who is 269th in adjusted tempo and 201st in offensive efficiency. They’ve only played 1 game over 70 possessions so far this season and that isn’t terribly different from last year in their first season under Aldrich. In that season they played only 2 of their first 9 over 70 possessions and one of which was a glorified scrimmage/exhibition type game. All things equal they like to play slow and they shouldn’t get any disagreement from Northern Illinois on that front. NIU is off 82 and 73 possession games but don’t let that fool you. 82 against Coppin State is because Coppin State is one of the fastest tempo teams in the nation. The 73 against Rockford falls into the, throw the stats out because it was more of a pick up game than anything else category. In their other two games they averaged 66.5 possessions and that’s more in line with what I expect tonight. If I get the 65-67 possession type game I’m expecting then I’ll take my chances that these two subpar offenses don’t find their way over 139.
Colorado (-10.5): This line has come down a bit and that’s fine with me as I was considering Colorado at even a higher number. This one is mostly about strength vs. strength. UC Irvine scores 62.4% of their points from 2 point land which is 17th highest in the nation. On the other hand they 16.5% of their points from 3 which is 344th in the nation. In short, they love to score down low and they don’t do much at all from beyond the arc. Now enter Colorado and that plan of attack is likely to be very tough. 5 key members of the Colorado rotation are 6’7″ or taller and scoring inside on them is very tough. As a team they only allow opponents to shoot 39.2% from 2 which is 25th in the nation. In addition to that only 46.8% of the points they allow are from 2 and that’s 252nd highest in the nation. I don’t want to over simplify this game but it’s one team (Irvine) who can pretty much only score inside, against the other team (Colorado) who has a very strong interior defense. Colorado also should be able to do plenty of damage from the FT line. Over the years Turner’s Irvine teams have been fouling machines and despite a rough start from the FT line this season Colorado figures to be a well above average FT shooting team in the long run.
UTSA/Utah State Ov 152.5: I could see this one turning into a bit of a track meet. Ken Pom projects 74 possessions but I see it going above that. Utah State is 137th in overall adjusted tempo but actually 27th in average offensive possession at just 14.8 seconds. On the other side UTSA is playing pretty briskly as well at 15.5 seconds per offensive possession which is 53rd in the nation. UTSA was slightly slowed down by very slow teams against Southern Illinois and Oakland but in their other two games against teams willing to run they averaged 78.5 possessions. Utah State has been forcing long offensive possessions so far this year but that doesn’t concern me for a few reasons. First of which is last year they were 130th out of 353 in average defensive possession length. Second is that if UTSA falls behind as they should they’ll have to make even more certain that they push the pace as much as they can to maximize possessions and give themselves a chance at a comeback. The UTSA offense has been below where expected so far this year and that’s in large part due to Johnson who has started slow. He has such a high usage right that for the most part the offense will go as he does. Him regressing back towards normal level would also be big for the over.
Longwood/Northern Illinois Un 139
UTSA/Utah State Ov 152.5