2-3-1 night on Tuesday that included a few frustrating games. I know that’s life betting College Hoops but they always sting a bit when they happen. South Florida somehow lost by 12 despite holding a 13 point lead with 13 minutes left. Honestly it’s not easy to fall apart that badly. Outscored by 25 points in 13 minutes is really a different level of bad. The other stinger was Milwaukee who only managed to push +6 despite leading by double digits late in the first half and still leading by 6 with only 7 minutes left in the game. In the blink of an eye that seemingly easy 2-0 turned into 0-1-1. Gotta just flush it and move on. Here’s what I’m going with….
Texas A&M (+12.5): The Aggies are a very unique team defensively. They have no problem letting you chuck 3’s all day but they don’t really allow much inside at all. Check out these splits… defensively 41.2% of the points they allow are from 3 point land and that’s first in the nation. Conversely only 42.3% of the points they allow are from 2 and that’s 347 highest in the nation. The point pretty clearly being if you can shoot it from deep you are going to have some serious success against this defense. Unfortunately for Auburn they can’t and don’t shoot it well from deep. The Tigers are 322nd in the nation shooting it just 29.9% from 3 point land. Covering a number like 12.5 becomes quite a bit a tougher when you’re offense is one dimensional. The Tigers should be fine inside but even still the Aggies have enough height to compete down there too. I’m clearly still a little more sour on Auburn than the market is. So be it. I see something like a 69-60 Auburn win.
Xavier (+4.5): All the credit in the world to Providence for the way they’ve been playing. They’ve almost certainly played their way into the tournament and are rightfully favored here. All that said I think 4.5 is about 2 points too high. I only make this game 2.5 and I think we’re at a point the Friars are being slightly over valued. First game was a defensive slugfest and wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the same in this one. Xavier came away with a win that night despite the surprising fact that Providence basically played them even on the glass. Given the size edge that was a bit unexpected and even with it being the case they still came up short (no pun intended)…. Friars had nobody up to the task of checking Jones in that meeting and I don’t see why it should be different here. Providence been great defensively but that offense has been pretty mediocre despite the wins. If this game turns into the rock fight I’m expecting it really does become a coin flip. In such a game gimme the 4.5 and I’ll take my chances.
Rhode Island (+4): I’m still high on Dayton but this is a really tricky matchup for a team that hasn’t faced much adversity lately. To be frank about it this would nearly be their biggest win of the season. That isn’t a shot at the Flyers but fact is they have a strength of schedule outside the top 100 and right now their best win is over Saint Mary’s who is a fringe top 40 team. The Rams can play and that 20-8 record is no fluke. Throw in the fact they should be extra motivated off a loss and the energy/effort should more than be there. A couple of clunkers at home but for the most part this is a team that defends it’s home floor nicely. First matchup Dayton just boatraced ’em right out of the gate then just coasted from there. They have the kind of offense that’s capable of doing that. Granted pulling off an opening run like that on the road is quite a bit more challenging. Handling Toppin obviously the elephant in the room. He had his way in that matchup and I’m pretty sure Cox is going to throw some new looks at him tonight. Not quite calling for an outright upset but I fully expect this game to come down to the final minutes.
St. Josephs (+12): This is a team I’ve backed a few times recently mainly because they are still scrapping. I mentioned how that record paints a bleak picture but their are some nice pieces on the way and I think Lange actually has this thing moving in the right direction. Joes has actually split their last 4 including a that shocking comeback against Davidson. Both losses were on the road and they were competitive pretty much throughout. Bonnies shot 13 of 31 from 3 in the first meeting and it’s certainly unlikely they duplicate that. This is a big number for a Bonnies team that doesn’t seem to be in great form right now. Smoked by Davidson, ugly road loss to LaSalle. Somewhat surprising home loss to Duquesne. They still should take care of business here and get the win but 12 feels a bit high. Freeman is turning himself into a solid player and providing another nice option to go with Daly who is always a handful. Bonnies defense was never anything special to begin with but now the offense is starting to regress too. Something like a 75-68 win for them is what I’m looking for.
Texas A&M (+12.5)
Rhode Island (+4)
St. Josephs (+12)