There’s only one game in the Big 12 today, so I will make this quick. Oklahoma will commence their season today against the Omaha Mavericks from the Summit League. But first, let’s take a look at how I did in Friday’s games. (Click image to expand in new tab.)
I could not have been more wrong about the West Virginia game. I really thought West Virginia’s pressure defense would affect Texas A&M in huge ways. The Aggies had 18 turnovers, but they never seemed to truly struggle against the press. When they did break the press, it would often lead to wide open looks from 3 or easy baskets at the rim. West Virginia’s defensive rotations were truly terrible. They frequently had issues identifying where shooters were on the court and barely even closed out on them. The Aggies went 10-19 from 3, and most of those looks were open ones. Of their 10 makes from behind the arc, 8 of them were classified as “Open” rather than “Guarded” per Synergy. It was just a really bad effort on that end for the Mountaineers.
Elsewhere, Big 12 games went basically how I expected them to go. TCU struggled a bit more with Louisiana-Monroe than I anticipated, but pulled away in the end. Kenrich Williams did Kenrich Williams things and ended the game with 13 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 assists, tallying yet another double-double. Iowa State struggled against Missouri, especially on offense. They played a bit better on offense in the 2nd half, but at that point, it was too little, too late. There will be a learning curve on offense for the Cyclones this season that will require patience from their fans.
I did absolutely terrible in non-Big games on Friday. Hopefully my fortunes change today. Here’s today’s slate and my picks for the day. Lines are from VegasInsider and are as up to date as Sunday, November 12th, 11:15 AM CST. (Click image to expand in new tab.)
Omaha at Oklahoma (-23):
• Omaha opened their season on Friday in Montana against Montana State. I really don’t like this matchup for Omaha. They are traveling from Montana and playing on just one day of rest. Omaha plays incredibly quickly; last season, they were 9th in the country in Adj. Tempo and 13th in the country and quickest offensive possessions, at 15.2 seconds on average. Oklahoma has no problem playing at that tempo. They were in the top 80 nationally in 2017 in both Adj. Tempo and Average Offensive Possession Length. Omaha increasing possessions in this game may not be a good thing; I think it plays to Oklahoma’s strengths. That spread being -23 is a big number, but I’m riding with the Sooners in their opener.
Vermont (+13) at Kentucky:
• Kentucky had a major scare in their opener on Friday against Utah Valley. The Wildcats were down by 9 at halftime before surging in the 2nd half to win by 10 points. Kenpom is projecting Kentucky to win this game by 16 points; the spread in Vegas is only 13. What’s the reason for the difference? There might be a slight overreaction to Friday’s opener for Kentucky. Opening the season with a tough, hard-fought victory over an opponent you should beat by more will never inspire confidence. The second reason for the difference may be that Kenpom and other predictive rankings may still be overvaluing Kentucky. Kentucky is still very young, and it takes these young Kentucky teams a bit of time to come together.
• Vermont is also a very solid team. They made the 2017 NCAA Tournament, and they are returning 4 of 5 starters from that team. Vermont plays at a very slow tempo, they were 315th nationally out of 351 teams last season in Adj. Tempo. They could slow tempo today and try to limit possessions to frustrate the young Wildcats. I think it will work well enough to cover the spread.
Yale at Wisconsin (-15):
• I was excited for Yale’s opener on Friday against Creighton in Omaha. I picked Yale to cover the spread. Then, star PG Makai Mason didn’t play, and I was immediately less excited. Mason is out for multiple weeks, and freshman forward Jordan Bruner is out for the season. Wisconsin should definitely win today, and I expect them to cover.