Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 3 Open Thread + Picking The Lines: Day 4

We're up to the first full day of the NCAA Tournament. It's going to be a long time before I get used to calling this the "Second Round".

I invite all of you to hang in the comments section to this post to discuss the games. I'll be able to talk with you guys all day today. Hopefully we can get some good discussions going, because I won't be here as much the next three days. I'm actually going to the games in Chicago, and when I'm in the arena I'm not going to have access to this website. But I'll be here all day today, so stay and chat. Here are my previews for today's games.

And now, my previews for Day 4:

Day 2 against the spread: 1-1
Total through Day 2 ATS: 3-1
2010 Tournament ATS: 35-25-3

Texas (-10) over Oakland: Oakland is a solid team, but Texas is a brutal draw. Oakland's strength is in the paint and they are weak in the backcourt, which is a problem since their frontcourt still is inferior to the one Texas has. Texas will outplay them in every aspect of the game.

Tennessee (-2) over Michigan: I know some people are going to switch their picks to Michigan because of the news that broke yesterday that Bruce Pearl would be gone at the end of the season (a rumor that ended up being partially dispelled), but no team is more used to playing with distractions than Tennessee. They had to play a whole bunch of SEC games without Bruce Pearl this year and it didn't seem to affect them measurably. They'll be ready to play, and they're still my pick.

Notre Dame (-15) over Akron: I was leaning toward taking Akron here, because Notre Dame doesn't usually blow teams out away from home. But this really is basically a home game, taking place just up the road in Chicago. Akron's going to have to hit a lot of threes to stay in this game.

George Mason (+1) over Villanova: Villanova has been in an absolute collapse the past few weeks. There's no injury or excuse, they're just playing horribly. Last year they were in a late season collapse and went ahead and played terribly in the NCAA Tournament. I just won't bet on them magically turning it around here against George Mason.

Arizona (-5.5) over Memphis: I don't see this game being close. Arizona is underrated, and Memphis is way overrated (13-1 in games decided by five points or less or in overtime). I see no chance Memphis wins this game, so that spread is way too small to consider taking the points.

Duke (-25) over Hampton: It's always difficult to pick these 1/16 games. I think Hampton will struggle more with Duke than even a team like Kansas, just because Duke's excellent execution and fundamental play can really frustrate opponents that aren't used to it. I think Duke will get a mental boost if Kyrie Irving is there and plays, and they've got what is a virtual home game in Charlotte, and Duke always plays great in the state of North Carolina during the NCAA Tournament.

Florida State (+1.5) over Texas A&M: FSU is rated as the better team by Sagarin and Pomeroy, and they're actually better than their computer rating - they had to go through much of the year without Xavier Gibson and Chris Singleton. Of course, Singleton still hasn't played since he was hurt. He says he's going to play, and if he's not effective then FSU will lose, but if he's anywhere near 100% then FSU should win relatively easy. Texas A&M struggled all season with defenses that were big and athletic, and they were actually dead last in the Big 12 in getting their shot blocked. FSU's defense is extremely similar to the Texas defense, and Texas destroyed A&M both times they played this year.

Kansas (-22.5) over Boston University: Eight times this season Kansas played a non-conference opponent outside the Pomeroy Top 100, and won all of them by more than 23 points. They did win by only 12 at Oklahoma, a team outside the Top 100, but that was a true road game (and this Tournament game will be a semi-home game, in Tulsa), and Oklahoma's been playing like a Top 100 team the past few weeks anyway. So I expect a Kansas blowout.

North Carolina (-17.5) over LIU: This game is going to be a track meet. The final score could potentially be something like 105-80. But that is why I'm giving the points. It's easier to win by 18 or more points if you have so many more possessions to expand on your lead.

Purdue (-14.5) over St. Peter's: I was very indecisive about this one, so I would lay off it if I were you. This spread seems just about right. Purdue doesn't really blow teams out, but at the same time there's no chance St. Peter's wins this game. What are the odds that St. Peter's can keep the game within 10-12 points? At least I'd feel more comfortable having Purdue here, since even if the game's close you know that Purdue could pull away down the stretch, but if Purdue gets up by 20 points early then this one will be over. Keep in mind that in the MAAC tournament semis and finals, St. Peter's jumped out to big early leads and faded late when their opponent started to press and turn them over like crazy. If Purdue turns up the defensive pressure this game could turn into a layup line.

Marquette (+2.5) over Xavier: I picked Marquette to win straight up. Please read here to see my reasoning.

Illinois (+2.5) over UNLV: I took Illinois to win straight up. Please read here to see my reasoning.

Washington (-5.5) over Georgia: I don't think this game will even be close. Washington is a much better team. With a spread this small, don't take the points unless you think Georgia has at least a 25% chance of winning the game. And I don't.

Syracuse (-12.5) over Indiana State: Indiana State is an ideal opponent for Syracuse. Syracuse fears teams that can shoot threes over their zone, and teams that can hang onto the ball (since Syracuse is mediocre offensively in the half court and is dependent on forcing a lot of turnovers to get easy baskets). Indiana State is poor with the ball (7th in the Missouri Valley in offensive turnover percentage) and shot on 35.5% on threes on the season. So I like Syracuse here.

Edit [Posting this around 10pm eastern time]
The lines from the games involving the two teams that played in the first round are up, so let me add those two spreads here:

Georgetown (-5.5) over VCU: VCU is not a good team, despite the upset they pulled of a poorly-prepared USC team on Wednesday. Chris Wright will play, and I expect Georgetown to bounce back from their poor play during Wright's absence.

Ohio State (-23.5) over UT-San Antonio: I never feel good about picking the spread on these 1/16 games. Ohio State doesn't play inferior opponents close, though, and there's no way this game will be closer than 15 points. So giving the points seems like the safer bet.

57 comments:

Jeff said...

Here we go!

I hope all of you will recover quickly from the cold that's keeping you home from work today.

Jeff said...

Playing two days ago clearly helped Clemson get off to a quick start, but West Virginia is into the game now, and Clemson is much more likely to tire down the stretch.

Anonymous said...

Jones hit some big shots to erase that lead. Wont be long till WV starts grabbing those offensive boards

Old dom/butler looks pretty tight.

Jeff said...

Matt Howard and Andrew Smith are both in foul trouble. Howard in foul trouble against ODU is about as shocking as the sun rising in the east this morning. I just don't see how Butler can keep ODU off the boards now.

Anonymous said...

no surprise to see matt howard on the bench as well

Jeff said...

Butler's got to be thinking that this would be a really good time for Khyle Marshall to break out. If they win today it's going to be because he played the game of his life. He was a bit time recruit, so he's got it in him.

Jeff said...

Sorry, "big" time recruit....

Anonymous said...

at least butler kept it close for the 1st half, they still have a chance now if howard and smith stays on the floor.

Jeff said...

I agree. The fact that Andrew Smith stayed on the floor the final few minutes of the half without picking up his third foul was huge. Butler can win if they can leave two of Howard, Smith & Marshall on the court at all times, because they do have a substantial backcourt advantage.

Jeff said...

By the way, it was just reported that Kyrie Irving will definitely play tomorrow. He'll come off the bench, but if he can play 10-15 minutes and looks good then he could play a big role in this Tournament.

Anonymous said...

If he can regain his early season form, duke will be a clear favorite for their region.

Is it me or has joe mazulla seem to have grown this season lol.

Anonymous said...

kilicli always looks smooth with all his hook shots. WV owning the boards now though jones just got his 3rd foul

Jeff said...

Yeah, I don't understand why Kilicli isn't used more. Did you watch that game against Pitt when he went 9-for-13? He was unstoppable in that game, and his shot is unblockable. I watched that game and thought it was going to be his breakout, but then he went back to playing his typical 10 minutes per game and hitting 1 or 2 shots per game. I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

The way he does his hook shots are always out of reach from his defender. I thought he would replace thoroughman in the lineup when i saw that pittsburgh game.

Morehead state ballhandling looks very shaky against louisville but somehow they're up 5-0 lol

Anonymous said...

khyle marshall better have the game of his life now. matt howard just got his 4th and andrew smith has his 3rd already

louisville is just ice cold from the field even though theyre pressing hard

Jeff said...

Well, the reason I took the points on Morehead State was because I thought they'd get out to a quick start, but at some point that Louisville press would break them down and Louisville would pull away late.

Louisville often doesn't get much out of their press early in games. They tend to wear teams out.

Jeff said...

Man, I wish there was somewhere in Vegas I could have bet on "Matt Howard will pick up his 4th foul with at least 15 minutes to go in the game."

Jeff said...

Oh, my bad, it's Smith with 4. Howard still only has 3. Guess I would have lost my bet :)

Jeff said...

I've never seen somebody try so hard to not pick up a foul as Howard is now. And anytime he's near the ball and there's a whistle he spins around in panic.

Jeff said...

If I were ODU's coach I'd yell at Hassell that the next time he gets the ball he has to attack the rim right through whoever is guarding him or I'm going to bench him.

Butler is playing scared to death of committing fouls, and they're much smaller and less athletic, and ODU is taking fadeaway jumpers and threes.

They never played this afraid during the regular season - it must be nerves.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly, how is old dominium just not pushing the ball into the paint and let frank hassell and friends take on the defence.. if they do they probably foul out enough of butler's frontcourt players that they might eventually play 5 guards..

Jeff said...

One of Butler's team managers just picked up his fourth foul. If ODU plays aggressive and this game ends up in overtime, Butler might have to play cheerleaders.

Anonymous said...

OD's frontcourt are picking up plenty of fouls too.. possible 5 guard linesup in overtime

Jeff said...

Yeah, ODU's got major problems, too. But ODU has much more frontcourt depth. They've got a guy on their bench named Nick Wright who only has 1 foul and is 6'8" and can rebound as well as anybody on Butler can.

The same way Butler can survive if Shelvin Mack fouls out, because Ronald Nored can do all the same things.

Anonymous said...

does it amaze you that matt howard actually hasn't fouled out yet, it must be a new record for him..

Jeff said...

I've never seen him play like this before. He's playing exactly like the player I thought he'd develop into when he was a freshman. He's having a great game.

By the way, what's the record for most layups missed in a Tournament game? ODU must be challenging...

Anonymous said...

I agree, they've been pretty futile at the rim today.. if they've made those freebies, the game wouldn't be even close now

Anonymous said...

WOW AND MATT HOWARD WINS THE GAME!!!! he played this game of a lifetime today

Jeff said...

Wow, amazing finish. Howard was the game MVP. Also kudos to Khyle Marshall and Garrett Butcher for playing outstanding off the bench when Andrew Smith had to come out.

Jeff said...

Wow, did anybody notice that the Gonzaga/St. John's line moved to a pick'em? It opened at Gonzaga +2.5, and I got it at Gonzaga +1.5. Wonder why it would have moved... I don't recall hearing any news out of those two schools.

Jeff said...

Temple's come all the way back, grabbed their first lead.

Anonymous said...

old dominium failed all those layups/off. rebounds today.. really letting me down lol.

Well, at least this opened the way for pittsburgh to murder butler in the paint and on the boards.

Anonymous said...

I think louisville might actually force morehead state into about 30 turnovers this game lol

Jeff said...

Morehead State turned the ball over on 23.4% of possessions in Ohio Valley play. Right now they're in the 28-31% range here (trying to calculate the # of possessions on the fly means you should add error bars to that number). Honestly, I think they'll take that.

Their goal coming in had to be to keep that number under 30% and to dominate the boards.

Jeff said...

Jeff Brooks reportedly dislocated his shoulder for Penn State. That's killer if true and he can't return. He's the second most important player on that team.

Jeff said...

Princeton's clawed all the way back even. How about that?

Jeff said...

Morehead State had 18 offensive rebounds to 5 for Louisville. And they've still got that turnover rate under 30%. This is exactly what Morehead State dreamed about coming in...

Jeff said...

I love these staggered game starts. Never have to miss an exciting finish. This Louisville-Morehead State game is coming down to a great finish, and as soon as that's over we can flip over to watch the end of Temple/PSU.

Jeff said...

Onions!

Jeff said...

How was that not a foul? Even if it was after the buzzer, you've got to call the foul and then go to the monitor to see if it happened in time, right?

Anonymous said...

pretty sure that was a foul.. but oh well. first two games decided at the buzzer, and KU-princeton and penn-temple looks tight as well

Jeff said...

On replay I can see the no-call. It was close. Louisville wasn't getting calls from the refs all day - the refs allows both teams to get away with a lot, and that was to the benefit of the more physical Morehead State team. But that's what can happen in a close game.

This Temple/PSU game has been great the past few minutes. Looking forward to a good finish.

Anonymous said...

wow clutch shot by talor battle.

Jeff said...

That's a mistake by Temple there. Big Ten teams would guard Talor Battle out there - they know he has that kind of range, and they would know that he's going to take that last shot.

Jeff said...

That was a great shot Temple just won on!

Anonymous said...

WOWWW EVEN CLUTCHER SHOT BY JUAN FERNANDEZ, THIS SECOND ROUND IS AWESOME

Anonymous said...

first 3 games, all decided by buzzer beaters.... awesome~!

Jeff said...

This Kentucky/Princeton game is a perfect example of how important experience is. Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones have done nothing.

Kentucky's best players today have been Darrius Miller & Josh Harrellson (a junior & senior).

Anonymous said...

a night of clutch shots, knight's first points of the game might seal it

Jeff said...

Surprised by how well UConn played.

Wisconsin is doing exactly what I thought they would against Belmont. It's unfortunate for Belmont that they got drawn against Wisconsin. Against a team that turns it over a lot, like Kansas State, they could have really dominated. They are a Sweet 16 quality team with the right draw. But Bo Ryan's teams always enforce their system. They are going to play a slow game, and they're going to turn the ball over.

Justin said...

Man the only pick that I went against what you picked was picking Mizzou to beat Cincy. It's at the half and Mizzou did not look strong to close out the half. I may pay for not following your pick. I guess even the pros get one wrong too since you picked Louisville to go far. Of course I think only probably 10% of bracket nation probably picked Morehead St.

Anonymous said...

mizzou always has problems playing at neutral sites because they lack the energy from a supportive crowd. Cincinnati has played against some full court press before so they arent struggling.

Steve said...

I'm surprised how poorly Michigan States' offense looks tonight. They are throwing in the towel as I write this. Doesn't matter much long term as Florida is going to kill either one of these teams.

Utah State looks extremely anemic on offense but I understand that their star player is in foul trouble. If the lead gets up to 15, they will need to keep him out on the floor no matter what.

I was really glad to see San Diego State get it together in the 2nd half...fun team to watch. Really hope they can make it to the Final Four.

Jeff said...

Michigan State waited until there were about 8 minutes left in the game to start showing any life at all. Probably too late to matter.

And that Louisville game... we knew going in that it would be a battle of whether Morehead State would dominate the boards more than Louisville would dominate the turnover battle. Louisville losing Preston Knowles was a killer injury mid-game.

I think Utah State has been getting killed by the refs. They're not playing great, but absolutely every close call has gone against them. And, yes, Wesley getting a third foul was a killer.

Jeff said...

For the rest of Izzo's life, when people are lionizing his NCAA Tournament performances, nobody will remember that this game happened. How MSU decided to wait 32 minutes of game time before playing with any fire and before playing any defense is unbelievable. Probably the worst performance by any team today.

Evan said...

YEAH MICHIGAN!

Evan said...

YEAH MICHIGAN!