Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Open Thread + Picking The Lines

Thursday night started good for my projections but ended poorly. I perfectly nailed the first two games, both the winners and against the spread. But then Ohio State went on a late run to beat the spread against Cincinnati, and then Marquette had a putrid, sloppy performance to blow the game against Florida. Not only did it drop me to 2-2 against the spread for the day, but it ruined my chance of nailing all 8 teams in the Elite 8.

Oh well. There's always next year. Let's get to Friday's games:

Thursday ATS: 2-2-0
Total through Thursday ATS: 25-29-2
2011 Tournament ATS: 40-26-1
2010 Tournament ATS: 35-25-3

Baylor (-6) over Xavier: This isn't a match-up that I like for Xavier. The two big flaws that Baylor has are defensive rebounding and offensive turnovers, yet Xavier is awful at forcing turnovers and they were only 8th in the Atlantic Ten in OR%. And while Brady Heslip isn't going to hit nine three-pointers in a game again anytime soon, Xavier's perimeter defense is poor. Xavier showed a lot of resolve in pulling things together after that awful post-brawl stretch and getting themselves back to the Sweet 16, but it's hard to see any way they can continue on.

Ohio (+10.5) over North Carolina: Obviously this is a hard game to pick because we don't know the Kendall Marshall situation. Even if Marshall doesn't play, North Carolina should still win this game. They will destroy Ohio on the boards (Ohio finished 244th in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage), and they're just too talented at every position not to score enough to win. Ohio finished dead last in the MAC on 3P% during the regular season (30.5%), and Clark Kellogg's son is the only player on the team hitting over 36%, so they're not likely to stay in this game with hot outside shooting. But if Marshall can't play, or is a minor factor, it's really important to remember just how much the fortunes of last year's North Carolina team changed when Roy Williams finally switched in Kendall Marshall for Larry Drew III. And if Kendall Marshall can't go? I can guarantee you that even Larry Drew would be a big upgrade over Stillman White or Justin Watts. If Marshall can play and he's at 100% then I'd take UNC against the spread here. But assuming that Marshall will be at best limited, Ohio is my pick.

Indiana (+9) over Kentucky: Kentucky played out of their minds against Iowa State. They couldn't miss a shot. But it's just irrational to expect that kind of shooting again. 9 points is an awfully large spread (in fact, some casinos have it at 9.5). Indiana's outside shooting is excellent, and I don't think that Kentucky is ideally suited to go at Cody Zeller and to take advantage of Indiana's lack of height. They don't run a lot of their offense through their bigs. It's hard to see Indiana winning this game - that win they had over Kentucky came at home and cam with everything clicking. But I expect this game to be a lot closer than the Iowa State game. Unless Indiana really struggles, they won't get blown out.

Kansas (-8) over NC State: This is another very difficult game to pick. Both Sagarin and Pomeroy project 9 point wins for Kansas over NC State, and that's before accounting for the fact that this will basically be a home game for the Jayhawks in St. Louis. But season long computer ratings don't take into account how much better NC State has been playing the past few weeks. They've won six of their last seven games, driven by excellent offensive efficiency (1.06 PPP or better in all six of those wins). That said, they haven't played a single team as strong defensively as Kansas, and the Jayhawks have the size and athleticism to keep NC State off the offensive boards. Kansas has struggled this year against teams that have turned Tyshawn Taylor over, and against teams that have been able to juse speed to create mismatches and to put Jeff Withey on the bench. NC State is unlikely to do either. So while I'd be much happier if the spread was 5 or 6, I still give the edge against the spread to Kansas.


Anonymous said...

in your South Region - "Xavier is a team that does match fairly up well against Duke. Their perimeter defense is very strong, which can potentially slow down Duke's offense."

Fairly contradictory i must say and lack of consistency in your analysis. So Xavier's perimeter defense is good for one team and then suddenly deteriorates badly until " And while Brady Heslip isn't going to hit nine three-pointers in a game again anytime soon, Xavier's perimeter defense is poor"

Jeff said...

In Brady Heslip's case I was specifically talking about three-point defense, where Xavier is mediocre at best. With Duke I was referring to the ability of their guards to defend dribbling/attacking guards.

I'm sorry for not phrasing that better.

Sean said...

Just to let you know, if Xavier wins I am totally going to rip you on it back and forth if you make a comment that might rub me the wrong way. Even though your logic DID make sense, I'm going to believe wholeheartedly that you are an idiot and defend it til the death. And if you call my fan base touchy I will only come at you harder. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Jeff said...

Haha, okay. Deal.