November 13th, 2017: Game Predictions (Let’s Gamble!)

There are four games on the docket tonight in the Big 12. None are great matchups; the smallest spread is 13.5 points, and every opponent is sub-200 in Kenpom. So we should see four Big 12 wins. But, the two smallest spreads involve Iowa State, who really struggled on Friday against Missouri, and Oklahoma State, who will likely be without Jeffrey Carroll still, due to eligibility concerns. So there could be some very light upset potential, or at least close game potential.

I’m doing fairly terrible against the spread so far this season. Here are my picks from yesterday. (Click image to see in new tab).

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I’m 3-4 in Big 12 games and 3-7 in non-Big games for a 6-11 record overall. The Princeton 10-point loss on a 9.5 spread was a real killer. Oklahoma looked good against Omaha on Sunday. The game played out to my expectations; Omaha was willing to stick with their offensive profile and push tempo, and Oklahoma was perfectly fine playing right with them at that pace. The final was 108-89 with 87 possessions. Last season, the most possessions Oklahoma had in a single game was 92, and that was in a double-overtime game against Iowa State. We very likely won’t see another Oklahoma game this season with that type of pace. I talked about it on Twitter, but I was really impressed by Trae Young. He didn’t shoot it great (he was only 1/6 from 3), but the offense consistently flowed better when he was in the game and resulted in more open looks. He recorded 10 assists to only 3 turnovers in 26 minutes of action. Impressive debut, and it was enough to earn him Big 12 Player of the Week.

Let’s get to today’s games. Here are my picks (click image to expand). Lines are from VegasInsider and are as up to date as 11:30 AM CST on Monday.

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Quick Hitters:

Milwaukee at Iowa State (-13.5):
  This line opened at 16.5 and is down to 13.5. This is likely due to the reaction of Iowa State’s opening loss to Missouri. Playing at Missouri on opening night when their fans are excited about their program for the first time in years is a very tough opener, especially when you have as many new players as the Cyclones have. However, it was a bad performance by Iowa State. They didn’t shoot well, they turned it over far too often, and gave up too many open looks. ISU shot 39% from the field, 32% from 3, and only 46% from the FT line. They turned it over on 19% of their possessions. Meanwhile, Missouri shot 53% from the field and 44% from 3. It’s surprising that the score was within 10 points at times in the 2nd half.
  Tonight is their home opener against Milwaukee from the Horizon League. Milwaukee will limit possessions; they were 344th out of 351 teams in the country last season in Adj. Tempo. They will look to play a game with the possession count in the low-60s. Meanwhile, Iowa State wants to be in the low to mid 70s. I’m assuming Iowa State will shoot it better tonight than they did in Columbia. The preseason presumed leading scorer for the Cyclones, Donovan Jackson, shot 2-9 and didn’t make his first shot until very late in the 2nd half. He’ll play better tonight. I’ll take Iowa State to cover and to win in Hilton, but if that possession count is in the low 30s headed into halftime, they could be headed for a difficult finish.

Charlotte (+14.5) at Oklahoma State:
  Before their game tipped on Friday, news broke that Jeffrey Carroll was going to be held out of Oklahoma State’s game against Pepperdine. There is no apparent timetable for his return. This is obviously a monstrous loss for Oklahoma State; without Carroll and Davon Dillard, who is still out for the Cowboys, Oklahoma State will likely be the worst team in the Big 12. They overcame all of this to still beat Pepperdine by 31, but Charlotte is a better team than Pepperdine.
•  I was surprised to see Lucas N’Guessan get the start over Cameron McGriff in Game 1 for Oklahoma State. I had just assumed McGriff would start next to senior Mitchell Solomon. Instead, N’Guessan got the start. I wonder if Mike Boynton wanted the additional size; N’Guessan is 7’0″. Starting him creates a rather big frontcourt for college basketball, with him and the 6’9″ Solomon instead of the 6’7″ McGriff. Seeing how this frontcourt develops is something worth monitoring.
•  Charlotte starts three juniors and two seniors. They are in their third year under Mark Price, yes that Mark Price, and two of their biggest strengths under Price have been turnover prevention on offense and 3-point shooting. They’ve been in the top-65 nationally in both categories over Price’s first two seasons. Those experience starters combined with their carefulness with the ball will be enough for them to keep it closer than Pepperdine did. I expect Oklahoma State to win but fail to cover.

Minnesota at Providence (-1.5):
  Minnesota travelling to Providence is probably the best game of the night in the tip-off of the annual Gavitt Games between the Big Ten and the Big East. It’s a 5:30 CST tip, so check it out before your Big 12 team plays. This should be a very fun PG matchup, with Minnesota’s Nate Mason going up against Providence’s Kyron Cartwright. These guys maybe aren’t incredibly well-known nationally, but they should be. I like the Friars at home.




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