Today’s college basketball schedule has 38 games
We’re short one game tonight with Northwestern vs. Iowa postponed because the Wildcats barely have enough players for a starting five due to a COVID outbreak, so that leaves us with 38 games on the college basketball slate. We’re a little short on premier games tonight after Kansas vs. Kansas State was a barnburner last night, but this isn’t about entertainment value. It’s about trying to find good wagers to make.
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Here are some thoughts on the January 18 card (odds from DraftKings):
A good one in the SoCon tonight features Furman and Chattanooga. These are two teams that love to chuck it from 3 and two defenses that allow teams to shoot well from deep. However, there is one thing I really like about Furman in this game that I think gives them the edge. The Paladins are much more successful at getting the ball inside and actually rank third in the nation in 2P% offense, as they’ve made 69% of their Close Twos against Division I opponents.
Chattanooga is probably overachieving defensively a bit at the rim, holding opponents to a 55% FG% on Close Twos per Bart Torvik, but they haven’t seen many offenses like Furman’s this season. The Mocs have allowed at least 1.079 points per possession in nine of their last 10 games against Division I opponents and 12 of their last 14. Furman ranks seventh in eFG% offense and takes good care of the basketball.
By virtue of shooting a lot of 3s, Chattanooga has the chance to overcome their defensive shortcomings, but I think Furman will get more possessions in this game as a better turnover team and will have the higher-percentage shots as the game goes along.
Pick: Furman +1
The first meeting between these two teams was a 52-49 win for Missouri State in a game that set offense back a couple of decades. The Bears had .852 points per possession and the Bulldogs had just .803 PPP. These are two teams that get limited looks at the rim and two defenses that really pack it in to prevent opponents from getting high-percentage shots.
In terms of shot share, Missouri State ranks 283rd in percentage of shots defined as Close Twos per Torvik and Drake ranks 314th. Defensively, Drake ranks 20th in percentage of Close Two attempts allowed, while Missouri State ranks 38th. Both rank in the top 40 in terms of forcing teams into “Farther Twos”, which are those low-percentage, mid-range shots.
Drake is a top-20 team in defensive rebounding percentage, which neutralizes one of Missouri State’s strengths, which is getting offensive boards. Both teams get to the line at below average rates. If they shoot the lights out from 3 in what should be a game played to around 64 or 65 possessions, it is what it is, but I think this should be another low-scoring game between the two teams. You can find as high as 129, but also as low as 127.5 on this game, so shop around.
Pick: Under 128.5
Things are not going well for Bucknell in conference play and are going quite well for Army. The Bison are 0-6 in league action and have given up at least 1.0 points per possession in each of their last five losses. They haven’t scored at least 1.0 PPP in the last seven games, dating back to a Dec. 21 games against Richmond.
Meanwhile, Army is the nation’s leader in eFG% offense in conference games only. They are shooting 59.2% on 2s and 50% on 3s while getting off to a 5-1 start in Patriot League action. Their only loss was by 2 against a Colgate team that looks like it has NCAA Tournament upside yet again. Even in that game, Army had 1.091 PPP, but came up on the short end of a 77-75 final.
In tonight’s game, Army draws a Bucknell team that has struggled to generate turnovers and has been too careless with the basketball. The Bison have turned it over on nearly 21% of possessions and have only forced a takeaway on nearly 16% of possessions. They rank 299th in TO% on offense against Division I opponents per Torvik and 329th in TO% on defense. The lone offensive issue for Army has been turning the ball over at a 19.7% clip, but that shouldn’t happen tonight, allowing their incredibly efficient offense to shine.
Their guards are also 79% or better free-throw shooters, which should allow them to finish off the game at the free throw line if need be.
Pick: Army -5.5
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