Saturday, March 23, 2013

Day 5 Open Thread + Picking The Lines

Well, Friday was definitely quite a bit crazier than Thursday. The biggest story, of course, was Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown. FGCU somehow had the 7th best offensive efficiency (1.04) that Georgetown had allowed this season. This wasn't of the Norfolk State/Missouri variety, though. We knew coming in that FGCU was a strong 15 seed that had already knocked off Miami this season. And with Georgetown's Tournament troubles in recent years, you could sense the dread in Hoyas fans even before this game tipped.

The Ole Miss win over Wisconsin wasn't quite as surprising, but statistically it might have been more bizarre. Wisconsin had not had an eFG% below 31.4% (their rate today) in more than 7 years. And this came against only the 8th best defense (and 11th best eFG% defense) in the SEC. Incredible, and a tough loss for a Wisconsin team that had a great Final Four shot with their draw.

While the result isn't a shock, the margin of the Iowa State/Notre Dame is another incredible result. The Irish have been playing their best basketball over the last month, seemingly peaking at the right time. They've been far better than Iowa State the past few weeks. Yet they just got smoked. It wasn't just shooting - they managed to commit 11 more turnovers than the Cyclones.

The big winners on Friday? Ohio State, Gonzaga and Florida. All three had their brackets swing wide open. Poor Louisville is still stuck with the Region of Death. We'll get to see the Cardinals in action on Saturday, by the way.

A lot of fun games are coming up on Saturday. Michigan/VCU is probably the most fascinating contrast in styles. Butler/Marquette is obviously a key game. Don't sleep on Wichita State/Gonzaga - the Shockers match up well against the Zags.

Anyway, let's get to the full slate of Saturday's games.

Friday ATS: 11-5-0
Total through Friday: 20-16-0
2012 Tournament ATS: 30-35-2
2011 Tournament ATS: 40-26-1
2010 Tournament ATS: 35-25-3

Michigan (-3) over VCU: VCU could not have had a better Round of 64 match-up. The Rams blowing out Akron was the safest bet of the entire round. But VCU could not have a worse Round of 32 match-up than Michigan. VCU #havoc relies on forcing a ton of turnovers. They were 2nd-to-last in the Atlantic Ten in eFG% against and don't shoot the ball well, so without those turnovers they get handled pretty easily. St. Louis did it to them twice. And Michigan leads the entire nation in offensive turnover rate, and features a backcourt with two guys that could be playing regular minutes in the NBA right now if they wanted. The Wolverines should win.
Michigan State (-5.5) over Memphis: In terms of match-ups, I can see why Memphis might be a sexy upset pick here. Their quick guards are going to really give the Michigan State backcourt trouble defensively. Memphis also might be able to speed up Michigan State's offense, which never works out for the Spartans. At the same time, this Memphis team just is so sloppy and undisciplined. St. Mary's couldn't hit a shot to save their lives, and still had a final shot from Dellavadeova to win. Unless Memphis plays significantly better against the Spartans, they're going to get run off the floor.

Colorado State (+11) over Louisville: This is a pretty fair line, I think. Colorado State is a good team. Their back court is really going to struggle to handle the Louisville pressure defense, but at the same time Louisville is a poor defensive rebounding team (11th in the Big East in DR%), and nobody rebounds better than Colorado State. I could see the Rams playing a lot of volleyball near the rim and hanging in this game. I'll take the points.

Harvard (+10) over Arizona: Arizona might be surprised to find out how quick Harvard's guards are. The Wildcats have struggled to stop dribble penetration this season, and Harvard shoots 73% at the line this season. At the same time, Harvard's defense is good at taking away three-pointers, which are where Arizona gets a lot of their offense from. So Arizona is definitely the favorite here, but there's no reason that Harvard can't pull a Cornell and make the Sweet 16.

St. Louis (-4) over Oregon: A 4 point spread is small enough that you have to really believe the underdog has a good chance to win to take them, and I don't. Oregon had a perfect game against Oklahoma State (or to put it another way: Oklahoma State had a nightmare game), but it's a big mistake to overreact to a single NCAA Tournament game. Oregon's 34 game sample size of being a bubble quality team means more than the 1 game sample against Oklahoma State. St. Louis is a significantly better team, and they should have no problem diffusing the defensive pressure that Oregon relies on (the Ducks led the Pac-12 in defensive turnover rate).

Butler (+2) over Marquette: I took Butler to win this game in my bracket, so I need to take the points here. I think Butler matches up well against Marquette. Marquette is not a team that can take advantage of Butler's poor ball handling, and Butler should be able take advantage of Marquette's poor defensive rebounding to get easy second chance points.

Wichita State (+6.5) over Gonzaga: With Pittsburgh and Wisconsin going down (and to a lesser extent, Kansas State), the top half of the West Region has completely opened up for Gonzaga. They have an open road to the Elite 8. Wichita State is their toughest remaining test. But this Wichita State team is a really tough match-up for them. Carl Hall vs Kelly Olynyk should be a lot of fun. I expect Wichita State to actually be the more physical team in the paint and to win the battle of the boards. And recall that this Gonzaga team really only has two good outside shooters (Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell), so if those outside shots aren't falling then they can definitely lose this game.

Syracuse (-8) over California: This is a big line, but a fair one. And recall that the formula to beat Syracuse is always to be able to shoot threes and to be able to crash the offensive glass - the two weaknesses of a zone. Cal can't really do either. Meanwhile, Syracuse should be able to crash the glass on the 9th best DR% team in the Pac-12, and should always be able to force some transition opportunities. Cal's half court interior defense is very strong, but Syracuse is not a team that scores much in traditional half court offense anyway. I think Syracuse should win this game relatively easily.


ervinsm said...

I hate how we only get 2 games this afternoon and cram the other 6 all in the evening. Start a game every hour on the hour from 1 pm est to 9pm est would be so much better.

B McCroy said...

Finally! We're seeing the statistical matchups finally play themselves out. Mich is nearing their season average for TOs but they've been able to make 48% of their FGs and as the stats and Jeff spoke to, VCU is not a great shooting team. Only 30% FG pct and a lowly 12% 3pt FG pct.

the dude said...

Yeah it feels good for it to work out that way as the games become more important...spike is a terrific ball handler too! I like the 2 guard set Michigan has been implementing much of the game.

Jeff said...

Hey guys. Sorry I was offline for the early part of the afternoon. Yes, I agree that the schedule today is ridiculous - we should have more afternoon games. And yes, it's nice to see the games settle down a little bit.

It's getting to be a trend in the Round of 64. Teams come out nervous in the first half of that first game and then settle down. We had the same thing last year.