November 18th, 2017: Game Predictions (Let’s Gamble!)

Just a quick Saturday morning post coming up. Three games today in the Big 12, and the highlight is Texas Tech getting their first real test of the season against Boston College in Connecticut.

Yesterday, I had a 1-2 day against the spread in the Big 12 and 3-2 day outside of it for a 4-4 day overall (click image to expand). Two of those losses were by half a point, with Iowa State winning by 2 and DePaul losing by 9. The Iowa State one was a real killer as they were up 4 with 6 seconds left, and Tulsa took a late layup as the buzzer sounded. Take a 3 next time! That’s one of those results that are tremendous to witness in a Vegas sportsbook. I was in Vegas over March Madness last year for the last-second Oklahoma State cover against Michigan on a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Those types of finishes are the best.

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November 17th, 2017: Game Predictions (Let’s Gamble!)

Four games in the Big 12 tonight. The highlight is Iowa State facing Tulsa in the semifinal of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off in Myrtle Beach, SC. Another interesting one is Kansas hosting South Dakota State in Lawrence. Before we dive into some of these matchups, let’s look at how I did yesterday.

Whoo! Look at that. A nice 6-1 day against the spread after going 0-6 the day before. I will take the Appalachian State late backdoor cover due to them extending the game for what felt like a fortnight. We’ll take wins any way we can get them. (Click image to expand.)

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Big 12 Power Rankings: November 16th, 2017 Edition

Two of my favorite basketball writers on the Internet are Zach Lowe and Luke Winn. I guess I should say “were” for one of those guys as Luke Winn was hired by the Toronto Raptors (!) in the summer of 2017 as Director of Prospect Strategy. Lowe covers the NBA and Winn did cover college basketball for Sports Illustrated. The best part about reading these guys is that you learn something new about basketball, whether it’s a team or a player, every time that you read their stuff. They inform you in intelligent ways without relying on the standard hot take-isms or journalistic tropes. They notice things about teams or players while watching games and then show it to their readers, whether through game clips or data-based analysis, and they do it in a way that is digestible and thought-provoking.

I do not have the talent that these two guys have, but my goal is to provide you with a similar look at the Big 12 every week with my weekly Big 12 Power Rankings post. I will rank the teams 1 through 10, but that’s not really what matters here (but feel free to let me know if your team should obviously be ranked 5th instead of 6th). What I want to provide are statistics, analysis, game clips, or just random observations that I’ve made that help you to learn more about a team or a player on that team. And sometimes, I just might include a funny anecdote or item about a team if there’s a slow week. Some weeks, I’ll write more about some teams than other teams. The bigger the game or a week a school has, the more likely I am to go a little deeper on them. Everyone will get their fair share in the end. Just like Lowe and Winn, I want to inform you and give you thought-provoking and compelling analysis on the Big 12 that you’re not getting anywhere else on the Internet. Alright, let’s jump in. Continue reading

November 15th, 2017: Game Predictions (Let’s Gamble!)

There are three games in the Big 12 tonight. Much like earlier this week on Monday, none of these are great games. Every opponent is outside of the top-130 in Kenpom. The best game is Oklahoma hosting a potentially feisty Ball State team, who only lost at Dayton by one point in their opener.

Quick review of last night’s performance. Not a great night against the spread, as I went 1-3. In the Champions Classic, Kansas won by 4 to just miss covering, and Michigan State fell apart late to do the same. (Click image to expand.)

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Kansas won a close game 65-61 in which their offense did not play up to its usual level. Their PPP (points per possession) was only 0.93. They really had difficulty getting anything to fall from the perimeter, shooting 29% from 3 on 8-28 shooting. Devonte’ Graham and Lagerald Vick went a combined 2-10 from behind the arc. Like I predicted in yesterday’s post, Kentucky’s lack of perimeter shooting killed them, as they went 3-13 from deep. Their strength, which is their size and offensive rebounding also wasn’t quite good enough. They grabbed 10 offensive rebounds, at a OReb% of 32%, but Kansas outperformed them there, surprisingly. The Jayhawks grabbed 38% of their misses, getting 18 offensive boards. And inside, Udoka Azubuike played terrific, scoring 13 points on 5-5 shooting and grabbing 8 rebounds. His performance was very encouraging. I’ll talk more about him in my Power Rankings post tomorrow.

Here are tonight’s games and my picks. Nothing great here in the Big 12, so I will be extra quick in today’s quick hitters. As always, lines are from VegasInsider and are as up to date as 10:00 AM CST on Wednesday.

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November 14th, 2017: Game Predictions (Let’s Gamble!)

Just like last night, there are four more games tonight in the Big 12. The highlight of tonight is the Champions Classic, featuring Kansas facing Kentucky (and #1 Duke facing #2 Michigan State in non-Big 12 action). Before we look at tonight’s games, let’s look back on last night.

Yesterday was my best day against the spread in non-Big 12 games, finishing 4-1. I will take it! I wasn’t as successful in Big 12 games, so it’s a good thing I didn’t decide to focus my blog on the Big 12… Hold on… Wait, what? Here are those picks from yesterday. (Click image to see in new tab).

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Yikes. Iowa State. It was a really rough game for Iowa State last night, as the Cyclones lost by 18 points despite being favorite by 13.5. That’s a 31.5-point swing right there. What went wrong for Iowa State? Well besides everything, they were really bad on offense again, scoring only 56 points on 0.84 PPP (points per possession). They had an assist/turnover ratio of 5/18 (Monte Morris is currently shuddering). They actually had more turnovers than made field goals, as they only made 16 shots compared to those 18 turnovers. They turned it over on 27% of their possessions against a Milwaukee team not known for forcing turnovers (233rd in the nation last season in Def TO%). And on defense, they couldn’t stop fouling, as they their Defensive FT Rate (free throws attempted/field goals attempted, or FTA/FGA) was 56%. Last year, their average on the season was 25.6% (top 10 in the nation). It was a truly terrible performance, and I’ll dive into Iowa State’s struggles thus far more in my Thursday Power Rankings feature.

Elsewhere in the Big 12, things went as expected. TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma State all recorded big wins, and each covered the spread. Baylor struggled the most, as they were only up six points at halftime before pulling away in the 2nd half to win by 24. Oklahoma State is showing some serious chutzpah on defense, as their first two opponents (Pepperdine and Charlotte) have recorded PPP of 0.67 and 0.87. It’s only two games and competitive strength is a thing, but they are playing much better defense currently compared to last season’s performance on that end.

I’m 11-14 against the spread so far this season and 4-6 in the Big 12. 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 2:00 PM CST on Tuesday.

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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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November 12th, 2017: Game Predictions (Let’s Gamble!)

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.)

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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.)

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