A 5-3-1 day yesterday pushed us back to .500 (9-9-2) on a week that’s been marred by some unfortunate endings to games. I detailed the brutal nature of Tuesday night’s games already, but last night wasn’t much easier. We suffered a half point loss by UNC when they were up by 19 at half, but could only push it five more in the second half. NIU going 0-6 from the field and 1-2 from the free throw line down the stretch to allow a push wasn’t any easier. We could just as easily be 13-6-1 this week, but every break has gone the wrong way. Such is life.
Belmont (+1) over MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
This game is a real contrast in styles. Belmont likes to push the ball and is a much better team offensively than defensively. Middle Tennessee is the exact opposite. The Bruins are top five in the country in effective field goal percentage and shoot the best clip in the country on two point shots. MTSU isn’t a terrible team offensively and they actually shoot it pretty well from deep, but I think the deciding factor when a game is expected to be close is often free throw shooting. The Blue Raiders are awful at that, coming in at 332nd out of 351 in the country with their 60.1 percentage from the stripe.
West Virginia (-20.5) over Marshall
Dan D’Antoni, brother of Mike, unsurprisingly loves for his teams to play quickly, coming in at sixth in the country in terms of tempo. The Mountaineers do the same, coming in at 26th. The problem for Marshall: they’re pretty bad offensively and defensively. West Virginia is probably one of the most underrated teams in the country right now and they have a penchant for blowing out inferior teams. A fast game + a wide gap in ability = blowout city.
HORNETS-Raptors under 196
Both teams are better defensively than offensively. Their average pace of play wouldn’t indicate that this one is going to be a track meet, especially Tornoto’s. Additionally, personnel is a factor here. Nicolas Batum is likely out with the flu tonight and he averages 16 a game for the Hornets. DeMarre Carroll is going to miss his sixth straight game for the Raptors and they’ve peaked at 102 points in the five games he missed and that came against the Lakers.
CAVALIERS (-2.5) over Thunder
Both of these teams are pretty dominant at home and their both .500 teams when they hit the road. The Thunder are 0-3 this year when they hit the road against playoff-caliber teams from the Eastern Conference. The main reason OKC isn’t quite as good on the road is the fact they give up four more points per game when they’re traveling. One other small tidbit: OKC is 2-3 this year in their second game of a back-to-back.