A very frustrating 1-2 night on Tuesday. We got a win with Texas as they led pretty much wire to wire and took care of Kansas by 10. The other two games resulted in losses by a combined 1.5 points. Eastern Michigan at +3 lost by 4 and Miami Ohio at +2.5 lost by 3. I’ve been around long enough to realize this is the nature of the beast, but it still gets under your skin when it happens. Moving right along here’s what I have for Wednesday….
Butler (-2.5): The Big East is a complete cluster f**k right now. Villanova and Marquette have pulled away from the pack a bit and every other team in the conference is either 3-4 or 3-5 in league play. On the surface that makes tonights line a little curious but there are still many out there (myself included) that aren’t totally sold on Marquette yet. They have won 7 straight, 15 of their last 16, and worked their way into the top 10 in the most recent polls. You guys know by now I’m not big on the polls and I actually have Marquette power rated 33rd in the country. Before you call me crazy for having them that low, I’ll point out that Ken Pom has them even lower than that at 35th. For the most part it’s a 3 man show for the Golden Eagles. Of course leading the way is Howard and his nearly 25 points per game. His co-pilots are the Hauser brothers who combine for about 26 points between the two of them and round out a very good trio. What they all have in common is they can bomb 3’s. All 3 are over 40% from and when they are all clicking it’s tough to handle. While all that is fine and well an off night from even one in that group and things change quite a bit. Outside of those three there are really no legit scoring threats and finding buckets becomes challenging. For Butler it’s more of a balanced attack as they have 5 players averaging 8.6 points per game or more. Baldwin is their leader and best player but guys like Jorgensen and McDermott are highly efficient players who are both nice weapons from 3. Also now in the mix is Tucker (a transfer from Duke) who has worked his way into the rotation as a guy who is playing about 25-30 minutes a game. The Bulldogs are 9-2 at home and playing at Hinkle is always a tough test for road teams. Style wise Marquette doesn’t play at warp speed or anything but they are clearly faster than D1 average in adjusted pace. You know Butler will do what they can to slow them down and take them out of what they want to do. Ultimately this game screams for some two way regression. Marquette is good, but not nearly as good as that 18-3 record shows and Butler isn’t great but they are better than a 12-9 record would lead you to believe. I don’t like throwing around “must win” lines in late January but this truly is a huge game for Butler and they know they need it. Inevitably they’ll find themselves on the bubble in March and a win here would help their cause quite a bit. I think they get it done and win by 8-10 points or so.
Rhode Island (-2): Those of you who followed me last year know how much I hated Duquesne. Nothing personal against them or anything but last year they used a cupcake schedule to work their way to 12-4 and I was telling anyone who would listen how bad they are and not to believe in them. From that point they were 4-12 and finished 16-16. Fast forward to this year and they are doing the same garbage again. The Dukes are 14-6 and that’s due in most part to playing the 306th toughest schedule in the nation. Their out of conference schedule was 332nd in the nation and sadly the name of the game for them is to schedule and play the worst teams they can possibly find. I don’t know if they quite fall apart as badly as they did last year, but regression and a reality check are both on the way. In my power ratings I have Rhode Island ranked nearly 50 spots above Duquense and even on the road I made the Rams a 4 point favorite in this game. We’ll get back to Rhode Island shortly but for now I want to pick on Duquense a bit. The truth is they are below average offensively, below average defensively, they can’t shoot, they have very little size and they turn the ball over a ton. As a team they shoot a ton of 3’s which is odd considering just about nobody on the roster is a good 3 point shooter. They are only 32% overall as a team which is 273rd in the nation. Inside you won’t see much from them either as they score only 46% of their points from 2 point land which is 271st in the nation. I also mentioned their turnover rate which is sky high at over 20% for 282nd in the nation. You get the idea by this point but I’m not even close to sold on the Dukes whatsoever. As far as Rhode Island goes I’ll admit the offense has been shaky and there’s no point denying that. More than anything they just can’t shoot. They are as worthless from 3 point land as just about any team in the country. On the plus side however they are solid inside, play well above average defense, and rebound the ball very well. That doesn’t make them great by any stretch but as I mentioned earlier I have them clearly rated above Duquesne. Dowtin should be the best player on the court tonight and he’ll be a matchup problem. Guys like Dunn-Martin and Carry are too small to handle him and Hughes is too slow to keep up. I’m fine playing Rhode Island here but incase you haven’t figured it out this is more a fade of Duquesne than it is anything else.
Rhode Island (-2)