Denver (+7.5): I know on the surface this isn’t a comfortable play to make but I actually think it’s a pretty nice buy low spot for the Pioneers. Now Denver is 4-13 and has lost 8 games in a row so I’m not going to be able to sit here and act like they are a good team, they aren’t. This play is mostly about not thinking South Dakota State is good enough to be laying this many points on the road. Yes the Jackrabbits are 11-7 overall but check out these home/road splits. At home they are 10-0, on the road they are 1-7 and the one win came in double OT. It’s also worth noting that 11-7 record is due in large part to playing the 302nd toughest schedule in the nation. Denver doesn’t do much well but if there’s one thing I can give them it’s that they’ll pound the ball inside and do it with decent success. 55.5% of the points Denver scores are from 2 point land and that ranks 50th in the nation. Most of that is the duo of Townsend and Murkey who are by far the two best players on the team. They are only 6’3″ and 6’5″ respectively but both are more than willing to get into the paint and mix it up. This works out well for the Pioneers as playing inside works directly against the weakness of the South Dakota State defense. I mentioned earlier that 55.5% is how many of Denver points come from 2 and oddly enough that 55.5% is the exact same percentage of points South Dakota State allows from 2. The D1 average is about 50% so for as bad as Denver is it’s fair to expect them to have some success inside. I also have to mention the altitude factor. I know it isn’t exactly a frenzied fan base at Denver games but you are still playing at 5300 feet and you’re crazy if you don’t think that matters. Denver is 98th in the nation in adjusted tempo and they’ll do what they can to speed things up against the Jackrabbits who are 247th in adjusted tempo. At the end of the day this is a lot of points to get against a team that’s 1-7 on the road, throw in the altitude and Denver doing some damage inside and I’ll take my chances.
St. Josephs (+7.5): I’ve picked on Duquesne plenty this season and have taken my shots at their schedule and here is another example as they take on St. Joes… this is their first road game of the season. It’s January 8th, they’ve played 14 games, and this is the first true road game. This fits in well with their laughably easily schedule that ranks 298th in the nation. At 3-11 nothing about St. Joes is going to impress you at first glance but they are better than you probably think. They’ve got a win over U Conn, they hung around against Florida, they were down 3 with 4 mins left against Villanova, and they were within single digits most of the way against Dayton. I’d go into the Duquesne team numbers a bit but frankly against that schedule they really don’t mean much to me at all. I will give them credit for taking care of business at home against Saint Louis and Davidson, but I’m going to need to see them do something on the road before I view them as anything other than total frauds. On the other side St. Joes goes into this one with the 21st toughest schedule in the nation. They’ve already played 6 teams that are ranked inside the Ken Pom top 75, while Duquesne has played, you guessed it, 0. The Hawks are led by Daly at PG and he’s one of the most, let’s say unique players in the nation. He’s 6’5″, 225 lbs and despite being in college is already rocking the body of a man in his mid 30’s. He’s got the bowling ball gut, but he’s also by far the best player on the team and a pretty tricky matchup. You wouldn’t think it by looking at him but this is a guy who averages 20 points, over 8 rebounds, and nearly 5 assists a game. He isn’t the best athlete in the world but that height and weight make him a handful to deal with for opposing PG’s. Duquesne’s starting guards are 5’8″, 155 and 6’1″, 180 and it’s safe to say Daly is going to be a problem for them. He scored 32 against Nova, 30 against U Conn, 25 against Florida, and 22 against Dayton. Point being he’s busted up backcourts a hell of a lot better than what Duquesne will throw at him. With him leading the way I think the Hawks can hang around. I made this line 5 so I’ll gladly take my chances at 7.5.
Samford (+5): This is a pretty big game for a Samford team that actually came into the season with some decent expectations. Coming into the year Ken Pom had them ranked 128th and they’ve fallen nearly 100 spots since then to the 220 they check in at now. The 6-8 start was ugly but the Bulldogs are off to a 2-0 start in conference play and you’ve gotta figure starting to grow in confidence. Now they get a home game against Wofford and it feels a bit odd to see them catching 5.5 points. If this game was played to open the season they’d have been about PK on neutral court and Samford probably -2.5 to -3 at home. That gives up roughly an 8 point line swing from the start of the season until now. As I always say, this is a market and a big part of the game is buy low/sell high… that’s what we have here. Like most teams Wofford is far worse on the road. Their 9-6 overall but only 3-6 on the road. From an X’s and O’s standpoint Samford should have a nice edge inside. They aren’t a team with a size advantage on most nights, but here against a very undersized Wofford team they will have an edge in the paint. Opponents shoot 53% from 2 point land against Wofford which is about 4% above the D1 average. That works out well for Samford as they score 54% of their points from 2 point land and that ranks 86th (keep in mind out of 353) in the country. The Bulldogs are led by Sharkey who has turned himself into one of the best under the radar PG’s in the nation. He’s averaging 19 points, 9 assists, 3.5 steals and doing it on 50% shooting from the field and 37% from 3 point land. His main partner in crime is Dupree who chips in about 12 points, 7 rebounds a game to go with 55% from the field. They are both Seniors and as their careers start to wind down you know it’s home games like this they’ll dig in a little bit more for. Now the elephant in the room for this game is Wofford from 3. The Terriers are about as 3 point happy as any team in the nation and the way Samford defends lends itself to a ton of 3’s attempted. Opponents are only about D1 average in 3 point shooting % against Samford, but they are hoisting a ton of them. Predicting jump shooting is one of the toughest things to do in College Basketball and there’s no denying the amount of 3’s Wofford will take in this game really ramps up the variance. At the end of the day though the Wofford road woes, Samford slowly finding its way, and the buy low/sell high angles are enough to find me on the home dog.
Out of time for write ups today but I do have a few more plays… those can be found in the summary below
St. Josephs (+7.5)
Western Carolina/VMI Un 155.5
Tenn Chatt (+7)
Iowa State/Kansas Ov 145.5