Month: January 2016

Picks of the Day: CBB and NBA 1/31

4-3 yesterday. 22-16-1 on the week. 15-10-1 in CBB and 7-6 in NBA. We’ve had five winning days. Let’s finish strong.

CBB

George Washington (-8) over GEORGE MASON

The battle of the Georges has been dominated by GW since GM joined the A10. One reason I like this one is the fact that GM has had one sizable advantage over opponents this year and that’s rebounding. The problem for them is that GW has been doing it slightly better. GW lives on second chance opportunities and free throws. GM had been doing a good job of not sending teams to the line until conference play hit. Duquesne just shot 41 free throws against them the other night and only 8 of those came because of the late-game fouling situation. In their two meetings last year, GW averaged 26 free throw attempts.

Wake Forest (+10) over NOTRE DAME

Demetrius Jackson is again doubtful to play in this one. The Deacs record is certainly nothing to write home about at 10-10 and 1-7 in the ACC, but they’ve played the toughest schedule in league play and the second toughest schedule in the country if you include non-conference play. They’re 4-2-1 ATS on the road. This is the same team that went in to Baton Rouge and beat a fully healthy LSU team.

COLORADO (-3.5) over Cal

Oregon (-2.5) over ARIZONA STATE

NBA

CLIPPERS-Bulls under 204.5

12:30 local time start for this one. Bulls had a night off last night in LA. There have been five of these 12:30 games so far for the Clippers this season. Two of them have gone over, but one of those was by a half point and the other one only went over because the game went to overtime. Outside of that, the Clippers have hit the under in four of their last five. The Bulls have been averaging a total of 201 over their last ten. When these two have met, their highest total has been 194 over the last three meetings.

HEAT-Hawks under 194

Hawks have gone under in six of their last eight. Heat have done the same in five of their last seven. When they’ve matched up, they’ve gone under in their last four meetings. The Hawks have been struggling to shoot the ball lately and I don’t imagine that gets any better on the road against a defensive team like the Heat. Miami has Wade and Dragic both back now, so their offense should be a little bit better, but they haven’t been a high scoring team at any point this season. They put up 107 against the Bucks the other night, but virtually anyone can do that against the Bucks.

TRAIL BLAZERS (-7) over Timberwolves

Early in the year, the Wolves were covering a bunch of games on the road and now that’s starting to return to the mean. Portland has been playing really well at home lately and they’ve already beaten Minnesota twice this year on the road. Martin and KG are still out for the Wolves.


CBB YTD: 114-112-8 (50.4%)

NBA YTD: 59-37-1 (61.5%)

Total YTD: 173-149-9 (53.7%)

Above .500 days: 20

.500 days: 14

Below .500 days: 11

Picks of the Day: CBB and NBA 1/30

2-1 yesterday. 18-13-1 on the week. It’s Saturday, which has been a brutal day for me the past couple of weeks. Just a fair warning. I tried to be more selective today.

CBB

THE CITADEL (-4.5) over VMI

The Citadel fires up threes at a higher rate than anyone and VMI has been allowing other teams to shoot over 40% from there in conference play. VMI turns it over at a high rate already and The Citadel’s press isn’t gonna help that problem. VMI will get to the line, but they’ve been below average at hitting them in the Southern.

LOUISIANA-MONROE (-6) over Texas State

Texas St. is on the back end of their Louisiana road trip and the first leg didn’t go well, losing to ULL by 26. Monroe just took down Arlington – who didn’t have their top scorer – but they’ve been cruising at home all year.

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (-5.5) over UT-Arlington

Arlington hasn’t been the same since Hervey went down, not surprising considering he averaged 18 points a game. Lafayatte was won their last five games by an average of 20.2 points per game.

Memphis (+9.5) over SMU

This one is pure feel. Memphis is a young, talented team that’s only 13-7, but their 7 losses have been by an average of 4.8 points. Their biggest was 10 at South Carolina. SMU is a really good team that can’t make the tournament. The only thing they truly had going for them was pushing for an undefeated season. That was just ruined in their last game at Temple. I expect less energy from them and the home crowd.

HAWAII (-7) over Long Beach State

Going out to play at Hawaii is an absolutely brutal trip, especially coming off an exhausting overtime comeback win two days before. The Rainbow Warriors are 16-2 and their only losses are by 8 points at Texas Tech and 3 points at home against Oklahoma. Long Beach struggles with Hawaii’s pressure as well. In three games last year, they turned it over 54 times (18 per game).

NBA

RAPTORS-Pistons over 204

The last five times these two have matched up they’ve hit the over and both teams have been in triple digits. The Raptors haven’t been giving up many points lately, but they’ve been fortunate to be playing teams without some of their top scorers. Pistons have been averaging a 210 total over their last ten games.

GRIZZLIES (-2.5) over Kings

Kings are on a three game slide and none of those three games have come against playoff teams. They’re 8-14 on the road all year. Memphis is 18-7 at home this year and they’ve won nine of the last ten in this series. A big part of the reason is that Boogie Cousins struggles against them.

Boogie’s career numbers against all of the NBA:

Points: 19.7
Rebounds: 10.7
FG%: .461
TS%: .526
O-Rating: 102
D-Rating: 104
Usage: 31.0
Fouls: 3.9
Minutes: 31.3

Boogie’s career numbers against Memphis:

Points: 15.5
Rebounds: 8.8
FG%: .442
TS%: .497
O-Rating: 97
D-Rating: 104
Usage: 28.7
Fouls: 4.4
Minutes: 28.3

Look for some over/unders on Boogie’s numbers tomorrow to come out. Remember I played the unders on points and rebounds with him when he went up against Washington earlier this year and we ended up hitting both of those and the line.


CBB YTD: 112-109-8 (50.7%)

NBA YTD: 57-37-1 (60.6%)

Total YTD: 169-146-9 (53.7%)

Above .500 days: 19

.500 days: 14

Below .500 days: 11

Picks of the Day: CBB and NBA 1/29

4-3 yesterday. 16-12-1 on the week. In case you missed it on Twitter last night, I played LBSU -5.5 in the second half and that was added to the total.

Syracuse cruised for us. It was almost like the betting public didn’t realize Demetrius Jackson was out for Notre Dame. I went to go put my pick in for -3.5 and the line had gone down to -2.5 in a flash. Jackson is way too important for the Irish. They don’t have any depth whatsoever and they have a true freshman who hasn’t play all that much this year starting in his place. Keep an eye on Jackson’s status moving forward.

The Iowa lost stung. The second half was back and forth the whole way and they ended up losing by six after fouling down the stretch. The Hawkeyes just shot the ball really poorly. That has rarely been a problem for them all year. Maryland deserves some of the credit, but Iowa missed a lot of open jumpers that they’ve been hitting all year.

The Long Beach-UCSB game was obviously a big one for me as I ended up making three different plays on it. In case you went to bed early, Beach was up 29-20 with five minutes to play in the first half before giving up a 20-2 run to close the half and making the first half play a loser. They pressed the hell out of UCSB in the second half and they were in position to win in regulation, up 70-67 before they fouled a three-point shooter with a second left. UCSB hit all three free throws and we headed to overtime. I was now in position to lose all three plays. Fortunately the 49ers cruised in OT, not allowing a point and winning by 10, and I ended up taking two out of three. I mentioned that Vincent and Bryson might struggle from outside for UCSB and that turned out to be the case, as they went a combined 2-9 from deep. Vincent was a total non-factor.

CBB

VCU (-2) over DAVIDSON

Small road favorites are always dangerous to take, but the Rams are on a ten game winning streak and they’ve won on the road in conference three times already, including wins at St. Joseph’s and Richmond. Davidson is an inconsistent bunch and look no further than the fact that they lost to Saint Louis five days before winning at Richmond. VCU’s offense has been remarkably efficient in conference play and they get the majority of their points around the rim. Davidson has been really poor defending that in conference play, allowing opponents to shoot 55.2% on 2FG. If you stretched that percentage over the whole year, they’d come in at 343rd in the country. The Rams have been one of the best defensive teams in the country as well. Another reason I like VCU here is how well they’ve done against Jack Gibbs. Gibbs carries the Davidson offense. Last year in his three matchups with the Rams, he went 9-32 from the field, including 5-20 from deep. VCU is 11-6 ATS all year, while Davidson is 5-11-1 ATS.

NBA

PISTONS (+5) over Cavaliers

Pistons are 15-7 SU and 15-6-1 ATS at home. Cavs are just 9-12-1 ATS on the road. Cavs are in their fourth game since Tyronn Lue took over as head coach and this will be their first on the road. Earlier this year, the Cavs traveled to Detroit as 4.5 point favorites and lost by five.

TRAIL BLAZERS (-5.5) over Hornets

Hornets suck on the road. Blazers have been 6-2 SU and ATS at home in their last eight.


CBB YTD: 111-109-8 (50.5%)

NBA YTD: 56-36-1 (60.9%)

Total YTD: 167-145-9 (53.5%)

Above .500 days: 18

.500 days: 14

Below .500 days: 11

Picks of the Day: CBB and NBA 1/27

3-3-1 yesterday. 8-6-1 on the week. Our three wins were by a total of 32.5 points. Our three losses were by a total of 7 points in addition to the push. Didn’t catch many breaks yesterday.

CBB

ST. JOSEPH’S (-12.5) over UMass

EAST CAROLINA (+3) over Temple 1st Half

VIRGINIA TECH (+10) over Louisville

MINNESOTA (+14.5) over Purdue

NBA

76ers (+12) over PISTONS

TIMBERWOLVES (+3.5) over Thunder 1st Half

JAZZ-Hornets over 191


CBB YTD: 105-105-8 (50.0%)

NBA YTD: 54-34-1 (61.4%)

Total YTD: 159-139-9 (53.4%)

Above .500 days: 16

.500 days: 14

Below .500 days: 11

Picks of the Day: CBB and NBA 1/26

5-3 yesterday. The Miami and Duke play was obviously a big one and really wasn’t that close before a flurry of points in the last few minutes. Caught some real luck with the Grizzlies forcing overtime and then covering in the extra five minutes.

The Kings game was an interesting one. If you told me before the game that Boogie would drop 56, Rondo would have 20 assists, Kemba would go 5-25 from the floor, and Troy Daniels would lead the Hornets in scoring, I think I would’ve dropped my life savings on the Kings covering. They lost. I’m still confused.

CBB

UCF (+4.5) over Memphis

Memphis has had the better season so far, but in AAC play the two teams have played pretty evenly from an efficiency standpoint. That’s in large part to the absence of K.J. Lawson for the Tigers, who remains sidelined with an Achilles injury. When it comes to the matchup, Memphis hasn’t been shooting the ball well from the floor in AAC play. They get a lot of shots blocked. They’re generating a lot of offense on putbacks and free throws. UCF has been solid on the defensive glass and while they don’t block a ton of shots, they’ve got the second tallest lineup in the country to alter shots. They also send opponents to the line at the fourth most infrequent rate in the country. That’s going to limit the bulk of Memphis’s offense. UCF has also shot the ball really well from outside in conference play and the Tigers have struggled to defend the perimeter lately. The biggest cause for concern is that the Knights turn the ball over at a high rate. They can’t allow for Memphis to get out in transition on them.

Florida State (-10) over BOSTON COLLEGE

BC is the Rutgers of the ACC. They’re really awful. In the non-conference, they were actually one of the more efficient teams in the country defensively. That’s gone to hell, because they’ve been the least efficient defense in the ACC in conference play. FSU is a young and talented team that isn’t the most consistent, but I think they’ll be sharp after a narrow loss at home over the weekend to Pitt. They just have so much more offensive skill than the Eagles. BC has one guy, Matt Millon, who has an offensive rating over 100. By comparison, the Noles have seven. And Millon has seen his minutes diminish lately even though he’s the only guy on the team that can consistently make outside shots. FSU has already won road games at Florida and NC State and took Iowa to OT on the road as well, so there’s no real cause for concern in that department.

Mississippi State (+8.5) over SOUTH CAROLINA

Once again two teams with very different records, but have actually been performing at similar levels in SEC play. MSU is 1-5 in the SEC, but other than losing by 14 to Arkansas, they’ve lost four games by a combined 15 points. And they’ve played the second most difficult schedule in league play. Meanwhile, SC has played a much weaker schedule. They really haven’t buried a halfway decent team all year. That’s the reason they’re a 17-2 SEC team and they’re only ranked 46th on KenPom. The Bulldogs are coming off a big road win over Mississippi. The key for them is keeping the Gamecocks off of the offensive boards while also creating turnovers defensively and turning them into points the other way.

ILLINOIS STATE (-9) over Drake

Drake is the worst team in the MVC and have really struggled on the road. Illinois State has won six straight in the series and covered five of them. They already won at Drake by 5 a few weeks ago. The Redbirds are coming off a nice nine-point home win over Northern Iowa.

NEVADA-San Diego State under 132

There have been two SDSU games all year that have reached 140 in regulation. Obviously, that’s not our number here, but this is one where you know you’re at least gonna be in the hunt. You’re looking at two offensive teams here that rank in the 200s, but are in the top 80 defensively. SDSU is 4th in defensive efficiency. The Aztecs are terrible shooters and generate a good portion of their offense on second chance points. In MW play, Nevada has done an above-average job of keeping teams off the offensive glass. For their part, the Wolfpack are also terrible shooters. They like to get a lot of points off free throws. The problem with that is the fact that SDSU just doesn’t allow you to get to the line very easily. Pray for a rock fight.

NBA

PACERS (+1) over Clippers

The news of the sports world today was Blake Griffin giving those hands to an equipment staffer in Toronto. That seems like a bit of a distraction. The Clips have been good without Griffin, but that’s been against sub-par competition mostly. The Pacers haven’t been setting the world on fire, but they’re back from a tough west coast road trip and back to the friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse where they’re 13-6 on the year. They’ve covered the spread in five of the past six of this series.

RAPTORS (-8.5) over Wizards

These two have met three times this year and the Wiz are only averaging 87 points per game in those meetings. It doesn’t help that Bradley Beal is out again after getting a concussion last night against the Celtics. After he went out, the wheels fell off for the team. The Raptors have been playing really well lately, going 7-1 ATS in their last eight and they’ve been scoring at a higher clip.


CBB YTD: 103-103-7 (50.0%)

NBA YTD: 53-33-1 (61.6%)

Total YTD: 156-136-8 (53.4%)

Above .500 days: 16

.500 days: 13

Below .500 days: 11

Big Ten Bracketology Update: Week 5

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There weren’t any major waves made in the Big Ten this week.

I guess you could say Nebraska beating Michigan State in East Lansing was pretty major, but the Spartans promptly took care of Maryland at home and the Huskers promptly got run out of their home building by Michigan. The water leveled quickly.

Outside of that game, Iowa continued their run of dominance, Indiana embarrassed two more opponents from the bottom of the conference at home, and Northwestern just did classic Northwestern things. Honestly, the biggest movement might have been Rutgers only losing by 14 at home to Iowa. They actually led 16 minutes into the game!

With the relative lack of electricity this week, I thought it’d be a good time to update where every team currently stands in the bracket projections across the interweb.

Before we dive into that, let’s honor our stars of the week along with looking ahead to the best games this week.


Stars of the Past Week:

Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa – averaged 21 points in wins over Purdue and Rutgers

Derrick Walton, Michigan – averaged 20.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in wins over Minnesota and Nebraska

Denzel Valentine and Matt Costello, Michigan State – combined for 34 points, 26 rebounds, and 10 assists in win over Maryland

P.J. Thompson, Purdue – averaged 14 points off the bench in two games

Shavon Shields, Nebraska – 28 points in win over Michigan State

Troy Williams, Indiana – averaged 15 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in wins over Illinois and Northwestern

Ethan Happ, Wisconsin – 20 points and 11 rebounds in win over Penn State

Five Best Games to Watch This Week:

Indiana at Wisconsin – Tuesday, 7:00 pm EST, ESPN

Iowa at Maryland – Thursday, 7:00 pm EST, ESPN

Michigan State at Northwestern – Thursday, 9:00 pm EST, ESPN

Nebraska at Purdue – Saturday, 4:30 pm EST, BTN

Maryland at Ohio State – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST, CBS


To get the best view of the current standing of Big Ten teams as it relates to their tournament projection, I didn’t want to use one or two bracketologists because there aren’t any one or two that are significantly better than the rest. Luckily, our friends at BracketMatrix.com do all of the grunt work and aggregate 59 different bracketologists out there and average out all of them to provide a consistent seed level.

Iowa – 2 seed (1.63 average – 59/59 brackets)

The odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten has a great chance at a being a 1 seed this year. They’re currently projected for the top two seed. I’m writing this on Monday night and one of the teams above them, Kansas, just lost to Iowa State. The Hawkeyes have as many “good” wins as anyone in the country. On top of that, they don’t have any bad losses.

They’ve played one of the toughest schedules by any measure or metric you want to use. And with that schedule, it’s kind of crazy how close they are to still being undefeated. They had late leads in all three of their losses and of course the Iowa State loss was a big-time choke job. If they had won that, it would’ve been one more statement win to add to their resume.

Looking forward: Iowa has the toughest part of its schedule mostly behind it. However, they’ve still got Maryland, Indiana, and Michigan on the road. Indiana will also be coming to Iowa City. Barring a total collapse, Iowa has pretty much set itself up for a top 3 seed. If they continue their current level of play, they’ll likely be a 1 seed for the first time in program history.

This week: Maryland on the road and Northwestern at home

Michigan State – 3 seed (3.31 – 59/59)

As much as I hate the RPI (Dayton and Oregon are top 10 teams right now and Iowa isn’t), it will always come up when the tournament is discussed. It seems many out there are so terrified of advanced analytics and change that they’re still using RPI to formulate opinions when it comes to seeding and selecting tournament teams. I don’t like it, but it’s frequent use makes it relevant to the discussion.

With that said, the Spartans just suffered their first “bad” loss of the season based on the RPI. In this case “bad” means any team outside of top 100 in the RPI. Advanced metrics don’t support that claim, but why use a better statistical model?

Undoubtedly, that loss will come up on Selection Sunday, but luckily for MSU so will their five top-25 wins.

Looking forward: More than anything, Michigan State just needs to start playing better. Beating Maryland at home was a good place to start after their three-game losing streak. If history teaches you anything, seeding doesn’t particularly matter with this program.

For as much flack as IU has gotten for its Big Ten schedule, Michigan State has seemed to fly below the radar. Yes, they had to play Iowa twice, but they play the other four teams pegged for the tournament only once. They’ll play Indiana at home and travel to Michigan and Purdue. Otherwise it should be pretty smooth sailing down the stretch for Izzo and company.

This week: at Northwestern and home for Rutgers

Maryland – 3 seed (3.32 – 59/59)

I’ve been quoted recently (through my own Twitter, @MLParlays) as calling the Terps a “#PaperTiger”. They didn’t do a whole lot to change my mind against Michigan State.

In three chances, they’ve yet to register a “good” win. Granted, all three of those have come in true road games. However, one of those was against a Michigan team that didn’t have their best player.

It’s not just that, though. They’ve had to rally late to beat teams like Northwestern, Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois State, and Rider. If it happens one or two times, I get it. But it shouldn’t happen so consistently with a team that has so much talent.

About that talent: there’s only one guy who seems to consistently relish the moment of a big game. Obviously, I’m talking about Melo Trimble. Sulaimon, Carter, and Stone have all had their moments, but not consistenly. At this point, you can’t really count on Jake Layman to show up when the lights are brightest.

Looking forward: The Terps still host Iowa, Michigan, and Purdue and will travel to Indiana and Purdue. They’re going to need at least a couple of those if they want to maintain a top 4 seed.

This week: Iowa at home and Ohio State on the road

Purdue – 5 seed (4.92 – 59/59)

Every Purdue fan also needs to become an Illinois fan for the rest of the season. The Illini sit at #92 in the RPI and whether they’re above or below that 100 line determines if Purdue will have a bad loss or not.

The Boilers have “good” wins, but not any marquee ones that jump off the page. Blowing a 19-point lead to Iowa certainly didn’t help.

Looking forward: The positive news for Purdue is they have five more opportunities for those good wins. After this week, the last month of the regular season will be an absolute grind. Honestly, how they play in February may be just as important as they play in March. If they don’t perform next month, the road to end the program Final Four drought will become much more difficult.

This week: Minnesota on the road and Nebraska at home

Indiana – 7 seed (6.88 – 59/59)

I’ve been one of those guys that consistently references the Hoosiers schedule. It’s unfair to the team because they can only play who’s on that schedule and, quite frankly, they’ve been burying teams lately. A lot of teams ahead of IU in the rankings and seedings have lost games they shouldn’t. Tom Crean’s squad hasn’t and they’ve been impressive in the process.

BUT…the schedule still matters. At least when it comes to seeding in the tournament.

And there’s one number I found this week that I think best illustrates just how soft their conference schedule has been so far. On KenPom.com, he ranks every team’s overall SOS and their conference SOS. IU’s conference SOS is .5917. I’m sure that means nothing to you, so let me put it into context. The next lowest conference SOS in the B1G is Ohio State with a .7084. In fact, of the top six conferences, the lowest conference SOS of any team is Notre Dame’s with a .7029.

That’s a staggering number. They’ve only played two teams in the RPI top 50 all year, beating Notre Dame in a big second half comeback and getting bludgeoned by Duke. Currently, UNLV is a bad loss, but that may change if the Rebels continue to have success in the Mountain West.

I’m sure Hoosier fans have felt some frustration as they continue to look better and better on the court, rise in the rankings, only to see their seed level remain pretty steady. But it’s pretty clear to see why that’s happened.

Looking forward: Indiana won’t even have a chance at a “good” win in conference until next week when they travel to Ann Arbor. But they also have two shots at Iowa, home games with Purdue and Maryland, and a trip to Michigan State remaining. If they win half of those games without slipping up elsewhere, I think you’ll see a significant rise and a potential 3 or 4 seed in the brackets.

This week: Wisconsin on the road and Minnesota at home

Michigan – 7 seed (7.71 – 59/59)

The Wolverines are 2-4 versus the RPI top 50, but three of those losses are against teams in the top 10. As of now, they don’t have a loss that anyone could consider close to bad. They’ve won most of the games they should and lost against pretty good teams.

I’ve talked about how dangerous I think the Wolverines can be with how explosive they are offensively. I also mentioned how they could lose to a team seeded much lower than them and the game at home against Minnesota was kind of what I was talking about. The Gophers are a really bad team and Michigan allowed them to stick around the entire game. Look no further than the fact they went 9-31 from outside in that game. If they’re not hitting threes, they become a below average team.

Of course they’ve been playing the last six games without Caris LeVert. LeVert is obviously a great player, but it will be interesting to see how his return – whenever that is – affects the team as a whole. The ball tends to stick often times when he catches it, which is not the way they’ve been playing in his absence.

Looking forward: Michigan still has one game to play against each of the five other tournament teams. They’ve also still got road games with Ohio State and Wisconsin. That’s not going to be an easy schedule to manage, especially if they’ll be incorporating their star back into the lineup. Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin have raised their level of play in LeVert’s absence. If all three of them are playing at a high level heading into the tournament, this team will be a real problem for their opponents.

This week: home for Rutgers and Penn State at MSG

Ohio State – Others Receiving Votes (11.00 – 2/59)

Right now the Buckeyes are on the very edge of the tournament discussion.

The good news for Thad Matta is that his team competed on the road at Purdue, leading that game at halftime due to some hot shooting from Kam Williams. They followed it up with their second strong effort of the week, blowing out Penn State at home and limiting the Nittany Lions to 46 points in the process.

It was probably the most consistent week they’ve played since B1G play started.

Looking forward: If Ohio State is going to make a run for the bracket, they’ll need to avoid any further bad losses. They’ve already got two of them and UT-Arlington is currently sitting at #97. They’ve only got one good win, Kentucky. They’ve got opportunity ahead of them, though. Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, and Iowa all still have to make the trip to Columbus. The Buckeyes have to win a couple of those if they want to give themselves a chance.

This week: Illinois on the road and Maryland at home

Rest of the League

Wisconsin

The Badgers actually rank higher than the Buckeyes in every advanced metric ranking besides the RPI, where they’re four spots behind. It’s not likely that they’ll sneak their way into any real conversations on Selection Sunday, however.

Why? They have four bad losses and two of them are really bad – teams in the RPI 150+ – when they lost to Milwaukee and Western Illinois. They would’ve overcome those losses had they taken advantage of their opportunities in Big Ten play, but they could only manage one significant win against Michigan State. They had their chances in close games with Purdue, Indiana, and Maryland, but they dropped all three.

Looking forward: They’ve still got chances against Indiana and Michigan at home. Otherwise, most of their opportunities lie on the road. If they manage to win seven of their remaining 11 games, things could get interesting. Especially if VCU and Syracuse finish strong. Those two teams are sitting at 51 and 52 in the RPI and if they jump into the top 50, it’s two more good wins for the Badgers. Gard’s group ain’t dead yet.

This week: Indiana at home and Illinois on the road

Northwestern

I’m afraid that, once again, this just won’t be the year. We’re 21 games in and the Wildcats don’t have a good win. They’ll have their chances, but it felt like the Maryland loss was their big opportunity and they missed it. Losing at home to Penn State was a killer.

This week: Michigan State at home and Iowa on the road

Nebraska

The Huskers had a chance to have a perfect week after they won at Michigan State, but they blew it with their performance at home against Michigan. They still have a chance to host Maryland and Purdue, two teams they’re capable of beating. They’ll need them both if they want to go dancing.

This week: Purdue on the road

Illinois

Ever since the Illini took down Purdue at home, they haven’t played near that same level once. They lost to Nebraska, got blown out by Indiana, and had to really struggle to beat Minnesota. Mike Thorne was back for that Indiana blowout, only to return back to the sidelines. It’s been a lost season for John Groce’s team.

This week: Ohio State and Wisconsin at home

Penn State

There’s still time for Penn State to ruin someone’s seed by beating them at a quarter-full Bryce Jordan Center.

This week: Michigan at MSG

Minnesota

Does Richard Pitino just start gameplanning for Rutgers now? They play them twice in the last four games of the season. It’s probably their only two chances at a Big Ten victory.

This week: Purdue at home and Indiana on the road

Rutgers

It’s gonna be another ugly week.

This week: at Michigan and Michigan State

Picks of the Day: CBB and NBA 1/25

Finished 3-3 yesterday. We’re putting last week in the rear view. I’ve never looked forward to a Monday so much in my life.

CBB

MIAMI (FL)-Duke under 153.5 – 3 units

I feel pretty good about this one. You can probably tell that by the fact I rarely put more than one unit on a game. First of all, Miami’s highest total in six conference games so far has been 141. Now, Duke’s offense is the second most efficient in the country. However, conference play has been a bit of a different story, with their efficiency dropping a bit. Here’s their game-by-game breakdown so far in the ACC:

  • @ Boston College: 81 points (15th – out of 15 – in defensive efficiency in the ACC)
  • @ Wake Forest: 91 points (14th)
  • Virginia Tech: 82 points (9th)
  • @ Clemson: 63 points (7th)
  • Notre Dame: 91 points (10th)
  • Syracuse: 62 points (4th)
  • @ NC State: 88 points (12th)

The point I’m trying to make is that Duke has been feasting on the worst defensive teams in the league and struggling to score against the ones in the top half of the ACC. Miami ranks 2nd in ACC play in defensive efficiency. Both teams have seen a significant drop in adjusted tempo. I would suggest playing the Miami -3.5 as well, but their offense has just been really poor lately.

VMI (+6.5) over Furman

Furman is a better team, but this is a team that has won one true road game last year and one this year back in mid-November against Appalachian State, which was one of the worst teams in the country during non-conference play. They’ve lost eight straight road games since then and it’s not like they were playing the country’s elite. Winning on the road in college basketball can be a very difficult thing to do. In the Southern Conference, it’s more difficult than anywhere else. Home teams are winning 74% of games in conference play, tops in the nation. VMI is coming off a big win at home over Samford, going in as 6.5 point dogs and coming out as a 7 point winner.

IOWA STATE (-1.5) over Kansas

The Cyclones just don’t lose in Hilton very often. They’ve lost twice in the past couple of seasons and both of them were to Baylor. They’re one of the most experienced groups in the country and one of the few in the conference that can say they’ve experienced success over Kansas. They beat them in two out of the three meetings they had last year. The Jayhawks have been shaky lately, going 2-2 SU and 0-4 ATS in their last four. Those two losses were both on the road, losing by 11 to West Virginia and getting smashed by Oklahoma State by 19. They’ve played four road games all year and their offense hasn’t been great in any of them, topping out at 70 points against San Diego State.

NBA

GRIZZLIES (-5) over Magic

Memphis is 9-1 SU and 8-2 ATS in their last ten games at home. The Magic are a young team that have hit a big wall lately, going 2-9 SU and ATS in their last 11 games. Memphis has won eight straight in the series and in the last seven they’ve won by at least five points.

JAZZ (-2) over Pistons

Detroit is 2-6 SU and 2-5-1 ATS in its last eight games on the road. The Jazz are 5-1 ATS at home in its last six and 5-2 SU in their last seven at home. Those are trends that have been season long ones as well. Utah has the rebounding ability to slow Andre Drummond down on the boards, which they’ve demonstrated in the past.

KINGS (-7.5) over Hornets

The Kings are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, winning their last five games and covering all five of them. In the Hornets last 11 games on the road, they’ve gone 1-10 SU and 3-8 ATS. It looks like Rudy Gay will be back for the Kings, while Nic Batum and Cody Zeller are still out for the Hornets.


CBB YTD: 99-102-7 (49.3%)

NBA YTD: 52-31-1 (62.7%)

Total YTD: 151-133-8 (53.2%)

Above .500 days: 15

.500 days: 13

Below .500 days: 11

Picks of the Day: CBB and NBA 1/22

3-4 yesterday. 14-11 on the week. Yesterday kind of sucked. We got off to a 3-1 start before dropping the last three. I always like to evaluate my losses after they happened, so here we go.

UNC-WILMINGTON (-15) over Delaware

UNCW was up ten at half and only ended up winning by nine. Delaware had only beaten their opponent in the second half once in the past nine games. UNCW has no track record of stumbling down the stretch. Projections had the Seahawks winning by 17. They had beaten Delaware at their place by 18 a couple weeks ago. I can’t really feel like I did anything wrong here, it’s just a loss. The first half line hit, the game didn’t.

PURDUE (-6.5) over Ohio State 1st Half

OSU was actually up three at half. They’re a below average three-point shooting team that went 6-9 in the first half on the road. Purdue is an above average team in that category and went 0-8 in the first half at home. They had a bunch of good looks that just didn’t go down. That was the difference. They were better in almost every other category. Bucks had been down 18 and 30 their last two games on the road. Boilers won the second half by 12. Just a loss.

Cal Poly (-4) over CS NORTHRIDGE

Poly was up 58-47 with 9:21 left and at that point had a 95.2% chance of winning. They lost straight up, giving up 29 points the rest of the game. A similar thing happened to the Mustangs at the Matadome last year, so maybe I should’ve put more stock in that.

Hawks (+1.5) over KINGS

The game was tied until Rondo hit a layup with 12 seconds left. The next possession was a turnover by Paul Millsap and just like that it was a loss. To be honest, we were lucky to even have a shot at it when the Hawks gave up an 18-0 run over a five minute stretch in the fourth quarter and they were down 17. The line ended up being Hawks -1, so it’s another one that I can’t really beat myself up about.

Anyway, those are just the breaks some days. It all evens out over time. On to today.

CBB

NORTHERN KENTUCKY (-12.5) over Illinois-Chicago

UIC ranks 346th out of 351 teams on KenPom.com. They’re absolute dogshit. They have two wins on the year and those two teams are a combined 7-18 in the CCAC. The CCAC is a D-2 conference. They’re averaging a 23 point loss in their eight true road games. Their closest loss has been by 17.

Maybe you’ll remember Northern Kentucky from Tuesday when they were 14 point dogs and won by 17 at Oakland. They also took care of Youngstown State by 20 at home last week. I like the hot team here at home against one of the worst teams in basketball.

NIAGARA-Canisius under 142

Niagara has only had one game in their past eleven that has gone over this total in regulation. They rank 319th in adjusted tempo and haven’t had one game played above average tempo in those same eleven games. Canisius plays an average pace, but that’s mainly due to the fact that their pressing defense leads to short possessions for their opponent. On offense, their possessions are longer than average.

NBA

MAGIC (-5) over Hornets

Both teams have been terrible lately. Orlando is 1-8 SU in its last 9 and Charlotte is 2-10 SU in its last 12. However, Charlotte hasn’t won on the road in their last ten attempts and are 4-15 on the year. They’ve also only covered twice in those ten straight losses on the road. But the biggest reason I like this game is that two starters will be out tonight for the Hornets, Nic Batum and Cody Zeller.

CELTICS-Bulls over 207

Both teams have gone over in six of their last seven games. When they’ve matched up, they’ve gone over in five of the last six. Over the last ten games, the Bulls are averaging a total of 210 and the Celtics are averaging a total of 212. Can’t miss pick.

RAPTORS (-11.5) over Heat

I don’t even know how the Heat are gonna put together a team on the court. They’ve got seven guys out and four of them are starters (Wade, Whiteside, Dragic, and Deng). The past three games they’ve lost by 19 to the Wizards, 12 at home to the Bucks and 25 to the Thunder. And the injuries weren’t near as bad in those games. They just spent the night in Toronto, legendary for its night life. This line can’t be high enough.

 


CBB YTD: 91-91-6 (50.0%)

NBA YTD: 50-28-1 (64.1%)

Total YTD: 141-119-7 (54.2%)

Above .500 days: 15

.500 days: 12

Below .500 days: 10

Picks of the Day: CBB and NBA 1/20

5-6 yesterday. 11-11 on the week. The mediocrity continues. Continuing to bet on college basketball is probably stupid. If you pay attention to the whole country, bananas shit is happening every single day. The number one spot in the country is about to change for the fifth time already, I believe.

Just a few of the things that happened last night:

  • Kansas lost by 19 at Oklahoma State as a 10 point favorite. I had the Cowboys, but I’d be talking out of my ass if I told you I thought that was gonna happen. OSU went up 25 spots in KenPom’s rankings.
  • NC State won by 17 at Pitt as a 9 point dog. It shot the Wolfpack up 20 spots in KenPom’s rankings.
  • Georgetown won by 9 at Xavier as a 10 point dog. The Hoyas also went up 20 spots.
  • And the doozie of them all, Northern Kentucky won by 17 as a 14 point underdog at Oakland. The Norse went up 56 spots (!!!) and Oakland went down 44. NKU had just lost by five at home to a dogshit Cleveland State team three days before. That game made zero sense.

The first three listed would typically be considered a pretty extreme case in terms of volatility in KP’s rankings. Not this year, though. It seems to be happening every single night.  I’m about 15 or 16 bullshit nights away from quitting.


 

CBB

VCU (-7.5) over Duquesne 1st Half
VCU (-13.5) over Duquesne Game

Wichita State (-6.5) over NORTHERN IOWA

WYOMING (-2.5) over Nevada

NBA

RAPTORS (-3) over Celtics

THUNDER (-9.5) over Hornets


 

 

CBB YTD: 85-87-6 (49.4%)

NBA YTD: 48-27-1 (64.0%)

Total YTD: 133-114-7 (53.8%)

Above .500 days: 14

.500 days: 12

Below .500 days: 9

Big Ten Temperature Gauge: Week 4

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Week 3 was what conference play is all about. It had just about everything. Our top team in the power rankings lost twice, including once to our number two team by 17 at home. And let’s not go blaming the rankings because Michigan State was favored by nearly double digits to beat Iowa. Northwestern did exactly what we’ve come to expect every year for Northwestern to do. Wisconsin beat a superior opponent in the Kohl Center, another time-honored tradition. Nebrasketball has had a (mini) resurgence. Oh, and Rutgers lost by 50 at home.

I mentioned last week that there were going to be great opportunities for middle-tier teams to get the upset over top-tier foes. It happened. I already mentioned Wisconsin taking down Michigan State. Michigan also took advantage of one of their two opportunities and slayed preseason Goliath, Maryland, at home without the benefits of Caris LeVert’s talents being on the floor.

As much as I enjoyed the week that was, it made me realize that I don’t have any clue how to rank these teams at the moment. I continue to struggle with where to place Indiana. Michigan State’s recent week has put my brain into a pretzel. And teams like Nebraska, Ohio State, Northwestern, Penn State, and Illinois have been all over the map with their play this year.

So with that said, I will not be ranking the teams this week and there’s no real telling when anything will become clearer. Instead I’m just going to categorize each team by how hot or cold they are. There’s only four categories. Three normal categories and one exclusively for Rutgers because I feel it’s my duty to single them out for just how absolutely putrid they are. I don’t do it to insult the players on the team because they’re kids and I know from experience how much time and effort they’ve put in. I do it for Rutgers’ embarrassing administration and for Eddie Jordan because your best win in a year coaching a Big Ten basketball program can’t be a toss-up between Howard and Fairleigh Dickinson.

Anyway, let’s recap the stars from last week and look ahead to the best games this week.


 

Stars of the Past Week:

Dom Uhl, Iowa – averaged 10 points off the bench in wins over Michigan State and Michigan

Zak Irvin, Michigan – 22 points in win over Maryland

Robert Carter and Rasheed Sulaimon, Maryland – combined for 47 points on 19-23 shooting, including 8-9 from three, in win over Ohio State

Vince Edwards, Purdue – averaged 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in wins over Penn State and Rutgers

Andrew White and Shavon Shields, Nebraska – combined to averaged 37 points and 17 rebounds in wins over Minnesota and Illinois

Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin – combined for 52 points in win over Michigan State

Five Best Games to Watch This Week:

Nebraska at Michigan State – Wednesday, 6:30 pm EST, BTN

Ohio State at Purdue – Thursday, 9:00 pm EST, ESPN

Michigan at Nebraska – Saturday, 2:00 pm EST, ESPN2

Maryland at Michigan State – Saturday, 6:30 pm EST, ESPN

Purdue at Iowa – Sunday, 1:00 pm EST, BTN


 

Hot

Iowa

I’ve been one of the Hawkeyes’ biggest supporters all year, but even I didn’t truly believe that they could win the conference. Anyone would truly be stupid to not believe it now. That’s not to say that they’re a lock to win it, but they’ve played the toughest conference schedule of anyone and they’re one of two teams that remain undefeated.

What continues to amaze me about Iowa is that they seem to get deeper as the season goes on. Nicolas Baer had his real coming out party in a close win over Drake and has continued to contribute in a variety of ways. The new Hawkeye du jour is Dom Uhl. Uhl had spent most of his time in Iowa City playing minimal minutes in big games and only getting his numbers against the Alcorn and Coppin States of the college basketball universe. But Dom has seen an uptick in play in these massive Big Ten games, getting 19.4 minutes per game and taking advantage with 8.6 points per game, including 10 points in each of the past three games. He’s just another long, lanky defender for Iowa that’s hitting 54% of his three-point attempts.

Needless to say, it was another incredible week for Iowa. It wasn’t just that they won so big in the Breslin Center, but it was how bewildered they made a Tom Izzo-coached team look. They stepped on the Spartans throat from the jump and never let off. And, once again, they showed their maturity by taking care of a potentially lethal Michigan team at home three days later.

This week: Rutgers on the road and Purdue at home

Indiana

The Hoosiers got a win at Minnesota in their only game this week. Coaches will tell you how difficult it is to win on the road, so I’m sure Tom Crean will take a pretty ugly victory over the Gophers. The Hoosiers are still tied atop the standings with Iowa, but they still have yet to play anywhere close to a marquee game. They’ve played the worst conference schedule so far, statistically. Let’s breakdown their five wins so far.

  • 7-point road win over Rutgers – Rutgers has played two other home games against Nebraska and Purdue and lost by a combined 84 (!!!) points
  • 10-point road win over Nebraska – the Huskers have played better the past week and a half, but they had also lost at home to Northwestern and Samford in the couple of weeks leading up to their game with IU
  • 1-point home win over Wisconsin – Wisconsin is 10-9 and IU was favored to win by 8
  • 25-point home win over Ohio State – This was Indiana’s best game of conference play and it’s hard to take anything away from it, but OSU is an immature team that lost by even more to Maryland the next week
  • 7-point road win over Minnesota – Northwestern, Michigan State, Milwaukee, and South Dakota State all had more convincing wins over the Gophers in the Barn

If you want to call me a hater or accuse me of raining on IU’s parade, fine. I’m just pointing out facts and I’ve got more. From a Vegas perspective, IU is 5-0 straight up, but they’re only 2-3 against the spread. From a metrics perspective, IU came into Big Ten play ranked 21st in KenPom’s rankings. After five wins, they’ve DROPPED five spots. Look around at bracket projections and you’ll find a lot of 7, 8, and 9s next to Indiana’s name. Once again, they’ve played the weakest schedule in Big Ten play so far. And once again, this week will do nothing to change that. They’re a good team, but they’re still probably the fifth best team in the league.

This week: Illinois and Northwestern at home

Nebraska

The Huskers are definitely not a contender and unlikely to be in any bracket conversations, but they are on a three-game win streak. They blew out Rutgers and Minnesota and won rather convincingly over Illinois in the State Farm Center. I said recently that the Huskers weren’t capable of winning a game of any importance – like, say, at Illinois – unless Shields and White both had good days along with a major contribution from one of their (too) many role players. Against the Illini, Shields and White combined for 35 points and 19 rebounds and Glynn Watson and Tai Webster combined for 33 points of their own.

We’ll see if the role players can continue to step up for Nebraska. It can’t be a game-to-game thing if they want to make any noise in the next couple of months. These next two weeks will show a lot. They’ve played really well against three teams that aren’t going to be dancing in March. If they can continue that level of play, they can flip the script on their whole season. I’m intrigued.

This week: at Michigan State and home against Michigan

Luke Warm

Maryland

Maryland actually has been pretty similar so far to Indiana. They’ve won rather unimpressively against inferior opponents, besides beating the pulp out of Ohio State. They’ve played four teams in KenPom’s top 50 all year and they’re 2-2 in those games. There hasn’t been one time this year where I felt like the Terps were near the level they were made out to be in the preseason. They’ll have opportunities to prove how good they truly are soon.

This week: Northwestern at home and Michigan State on the road

Purdue

The Boilers took care of Penn State at home in a bit of a snoozer and then blasted Rutgers by 50. I wrote last week that those two games along with Ohio State at home would be a good stretch for them to get their swagger back, in a sense. That’s basically Rutgers’ main role in this league.

I think their game on Sunday at Iowa will show a lot about this team. They’ve already lost twice in a league they were supposed to contend for and Iowa was one of those losses. Not only was it a loss, but they went into your building on a night Purdue’s biggest basketball (playing) legend was being honored and erased a 17-point halftime deficit and won. How do you respond?

This week: Ohio State at home and Iowa on the road

Michigan

I don’t think Michigan is one of the five best teams in the conference, but they’re right at the top along with Indiana in terms of watchability. They shoot a ton of threes (they get 42.3% of their points from outside, 3rd most in the country) and guarding opponents always seems kind of optional for this group.

With that said, they decided to defend Melo Trimble and they completely took him out of the game. He was an absolute non-factor and it allowed the Wolverines to pull out a big-time victory. They followed it up by allowing Iowa to shoot 51%, though, and they only caused four turnovers. You never quite know what you’re going to get with Michigan and that’s what will make them so unpredictable in March. They could beat a top team, but they could also lose to a double-digit seed.

This week: home for Minnesota and on the road for Nebraska

Wisconsin

The Badgers finally broke through with a big victory over Michigan State, a few days after losing to Northwestern. It helped that they shot a ton of free throws against the Spartans (TV Teddy was working), but to their credit they made 80% of their 36 attempts. Koenig and Hayes made a ton of shots, which is a necessity if this team is going to have any type of success the rest of this season. The Badgers settle for fadeaways and contested jump shots with the absolute best of ’em.

Interesting stat time: take away their blowout over Rutgers (not a real B1G team) and the Badgers five other league games have been decided by a grand total of 16 points, or just around three per game. Unfortunately for them, they’ve been on the wrong side of four of those. It will be interesting to keep an eye on them over the next couple of weeks because they’ve got a great opportunity to rattle off a few wins in a row.

This week: Penn State on the road

Penn State

The Nittany Lions gave a big blow to Northwestern’s tournament chances this week, grabbing a commanding victory in Welsh-Ryan Arena behind Brandon Taylor’s 19 points. Taylor isn’t quite as talented as Talor Battle, Tim Frazier, or D.J. Newbill, but he’s taken over their role of trying to carry Lion teams to Big Ten wins. “Trying” is the key term there. Shep Garner contributes quite a bit of scoring, but he does it rather inefficiently. I’m not sure who informed Payton Banks that it’s a good idea for him to put up 3-4 shots from deep a game, but someone should tell him to quit that practice. I guess what I’m getting at is Taylor is an enjoyable player to watch and I wish he could’ve experienced more success over his career.

This week: Wisconsin at home and Ohio State on the road

Cold

Michigan State

I should probably address my projection last week that Michigan State would win the league by two games. I’ll admit that I don’t feel quite as good about it at this juncture. If they do win the conference at this point, it’ll probably be shared. However, if Vegas put a line out on every game left on their schedule right now, they’d probably only be the underdog in one of them: on the road against Purdue.

The loss to Iowa was certainly decisive, but as I’ve tried to reiterate every week: every team will have bad nights and they will lose. Also, Iowa’s just a better team right now. I’m not really convinced that the Spartans played all that poorly against Wisconsin. Hayes and Koenig made a ton on jump shots and the Badgers made 13 more free throws than State attempted. It was Denzel Valentine’s third game back and the first one he started to look like himself. Not to mention, Tum Tum Nairn didn’t play. Don’t expect the Spartans to be down for long.

This week: Nebraska and Maryland at home

Ohio State

I recently suggested that Ohio State would be the annual middling B1G team to catapult itself near the top of the class. It’s not totally dead yet, but I can guarantee it will never happen if they continue this trend of getting massacred on the road against good teams. The good news for the Buckeyes is that as bad as they’ve been against Indiana and Maryland, it still just counts as two losses.

This week: at Purdue and home against Penn State

Northwestern

Good Northwestern: they rode Bryant McIntosh’s 28 points on the way to a 70-65 victory over Wisconsin.

Bad Northwestern: they rode a 3-26 three-point shooting output on the way to a 71-62 defeat to Penn State at home just four days later.

Come Selection Sunday, that’ll be in the “bad loss” category for the Wildcats. Northwestern doesn’t have an opportunity to get a marquee victory at home. They’ll have several opportunities to do that away from Evanston, but their recent play doesn’t show many signs of that actually happening. However, they did have big man Alex Olah return against the Nittany Lions. He only played seven minutes in his first game back and they’ll need him to contribute much more if they want to get that elusive NCAA bid.

This week: Maryland and Indiana on the road

Illinois

The week of rest proved to not be beneficial to the Illini. They lost at home to Nebraska and the game never really seemed to be in doubt in the second half. What did I gather from that game? It’s not a great strategy long-term to take 15 more 3FG than 2FG, especially if you’re going to make less than 30% of those three-point attempts.

This week: Indiana and Minnesota on the road

Minnesota

I don’t have much to say about the Gophers. They aren’t good and they aren’t particularly fun to watch.

This week: Michigan on the road and Illinois at home

Worst Team In The Big Ten Ever

Rutgers

It angers me to watch them play. They’ve lost their six conference games by an average of 27.3 points. Can we just make them, Boston College, and St. John’s play each other for the rest of the year? They all have zero business playing in their conferences.

This week: Iowa will beat them by 30 in Piscataway