Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 6 Open Thread + Picking The Lines

No, the West Region doesn't make any sense. Nor does Marquette continuing to have really good luck in close games. Nor does a mediocre outside shooting Wichita State team (33.0% behind the arc for the season) hitting 14-for-28 on threes.

But the story to me is Oregon. The Ducks have been completely mediocre all season long. For all the talk about Dominic Artis, he's an overrated player, and it's not like Oregon was playing well pre-Tournament in games with Artis back in the lineup. But they have been outstanding in two dominant wins over significantly superior opponents. Is it too soon to compare them to 2010-11 VCU? That VCU team also was extremely mediocre during the regular season, but suddenly started shooting the lights out and executing at a high level all throughout the Tournament. As good as Louisville has been playing, they can absolutely lose to an Oregon team that plays like they have in their first two NCAA Tournament games.

But we'll get to that later this week, when we're closer to the Sweet 16 games. Let's talk about the final day of the first week of the NCAA Tournament. The game of the day is Kansas/North Carolina of course, but there should be some other really good action. I'm particularly curious to see if Ohio State can keep their mental focus with the way the West Region has laid out the red carpet for their trip to the Final Four.

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

Saturday ATS: 3-4-1
Total through Saturday: 23-20-1
2012 Tournament ATS: 30-35-2
2011 Tournament ATS: 40-26-1
2010 Tournament ATS: 35-25-3

Ohio State (-7) over Iowa State: This is a fair line. Ohio State has had trouble defending the three-point line at times this season, and Iowa State does have a bunch of good outside shooters. If they get hot then they can win this game outright. At the same time, the Iowa State defense is not at all good and Ohio State should be able to score a lot of points in the paint. The key match-up for Iowa State will be Korie Lucious vs Aaron Craft. If Lucious can limit turnovers and minimize dumb mistakes, Ohio State will struggle to cover this spread.
Indiana (-11.5) over Temple: This may seem like a big spread, but Indiana should put up points in bunches. Temple struggles to defend the perimeter, which is where Indiana is strongest. Also, Indiana is built with Victor Oladipo to shut down individual star scorers on opposing teams, and that is what Temple has with Khalif Wyatt. They will need a big game by Wyatt to keep this game close, and I don't think they'll get it.

North Carolina (+6) over Kansas: Don't be shocked if North Carolina wins this game outright. North Carolina is playing their best basketball of the season right now, and they match up well with Kansas. As a perimeter-oriented offense, they will not try to test Jeff Withey much. More importantly, Kansas has struggled with turnovers against aggressive defenses this season, which means that the Tar Heels could get going out in transition.

Florida (-8.5) over Minnesota: With the region totally opened up for Florida, the Gators shouldn't have much trouble with the Gophers here. Minnesota is underrated, but so are the Gators, and Florida matches up really well. The Gophers perimeter defense is poor, which is going to open up a lot of open jumpers for the Gators. Minnesota also has significant ball control problems, which will lead to Florida transition opportunities. And while Florida only has one real paint player (Patric Young), Minnesota only has one big that they need to be concerned about there (Trevor Mbakwe). Young should at least be able to fight to a draw, which should allow the Gators to cover the spread.

San Diego State (-7) over Florida Gulf Coast: Florida Gulf Coast earned the upset of the Tournament, but I think their run will end here. Historically, 14 and 15 seeds that win in the NCAA Tournament tend to struggle in their next game as they return to reality. They spend their last 48 hours in a media whirlwind, while San Diego State spent their time preparing to win a game. The Aztecs are the better team, and they should dominate the paint and win pretty easily.

La Salle (+4) over Ole Miss: Nothing in the West Region makes sense right now. I do think that La Salle's ability to eliminate the three (they led the A-10 in 3P% and 3PA/FGA defense in conference play) should help them against Marshall Henderson and the Ole Miss attack. That same argument was used for Wisconsin, but if Wisconsin shot even close to their season average from the field they'd have crushed Ole Miss on Friday. I think the same logic still applies. Against the soft Ole Miss perimeter defense, another big game for Ramon Galloway can deliver a win.

Miami (-7.5) over Illinois: This is a little bit of a bigger spread than the computers project, but I think Miami matches up really well with Illinois. The Illini offense tends to get incredibly disjointed against quality defenses, which is what Miami has. Illinois is a poor shooting team, so they're not going to be able to attack the Hurricanes over the top. Defensively, Illinois led the Big Ten in defensive turnover rate, but were only 10th in eFG% defense. So if you can take care of the ball against Illinois, you will score a lot of points. Miami's experienced backcourt should be a key weapon there.

Duke (-5) over Creighton: You all know the story with Creighton now. If they hit shots then they win, if they miss shots then they lose. Duke's ability to take away the three should be key here. With Ryan Kelly back at full strength, Duke should be able to hold their own in the paint. Duke's rebounding is a problem, but Creighton is not a team that will take advantage of that. Creighton has to out-shoot their opponents to win, and I don't think they're going to out-shoot Duke.


Anonymous said...

If you combine the Shockers' last two games they are right on the 33% number. So the good shooting night followed up a poor one. Nothing but law of averages working itself out.

Jeff said...

Yep. Things tend to even out. The problem in the NCAA Tournament is that if a statistical anomaly knocks you out on night, you don't get a chance to make up the next night.