A 1-1 night on Tuesday as I had a winner with New Mexico and a loser with Syracuse. Odd game with a poor 3 point shooting FSU team knocking down 11/22 from 3 against an elite 3 point defensive team. Anything can happen in a one game sample size but it’ll suffice to call that unexpected. Anyways, we move on and here’s what I have tonight…
St. Bonaventure (+2): As many of you have noticed I’ve been fading Duquesne quite a bit lately, and to be honest without much success. Maybe I’m stubborn but I’ll be fading them again tonight. On the surface this will look like a very strange line. Duquense is 15-7 and at home, yet only a 2 point favorite over 8-13 St. Bonaventure. When factoring in home court advantage that’s oddsmakers way of saying that on neutral court St. Bonaventure would be favored and that overall they are a better team. As weird as it sounds saying an 8-13 team is better than a 15-7 one, it (by my numbers anyway) is true. I’ve gone into detail about Duquense many times over the past few weeks and it all still holds true now. The short version is as simple as this… they are below average offensively, below average defensively, they are a horrible shooting team, they turn the ball over a ton, they can’t rebound, they are very inexperienced, they have hardly any size, and I could argue they have the most misleading record of any team in the nation. Yes that’s the short version, believe me I could go further with this but I think I’ve made my point. On the other side we have St. Bonaventure and while I certainly won’t act like they are great, I will say they are so much better than that 8-13 record would lead you to believe. Stockard and Lofton are the best players and leaders for the Bonnies. Those two combine for about 32 points a game in addition to being solid defenders. Behind them you have Griffin who is starting to emerge as a good inside scoring threat that helps give the offense a bit more balance. Overall the team numbers on the offensive end are below average but with that trio I do expect them to be better the rest of the way than they have been to this point. Keep in mind Stockard has missed 6 games and Griffin has missed 10. There’s no denying that those absences have skewed the team numbers so far. Pace wise the Bonnies will look to slow this thing down and challenge the Dukes offense to score in the half court. If they can do that, then so be it. As a team they are 204th in effective FG% and 291st in offensive turnover rate. In other words far, far too many of their possessions end in bad shots or turnovers. The best unit in this game is the Bonaventure defense which ranks well better than D1 average. They contest shots, they force plenty of turnovers, they block a ton of shots and really do a good job defending the paint. That’s where I think they impose their will and take control of this game.
Texas (-3.5): My raw numbers have this one at Texas -4 but there are some situational angles at play that give it enough of a nudge to where I’ll play the Horns. We’ll start with Baylor who is riding high on a 6 game winning streak and those last 2 wins came by a combined 56 points over Oklahoma and TCU. All of that is of course a good thing for them but the truth is while they are a good team, they aren’t THIS good. There’s a little bit of a due to stub their toe element to this game. For Texas their record of 12-10 isn’t going to blow you away but trust me when I tell you they are better than that. Most (myself included) have them power rated as a fringe top 30 team and again while that 12-10 record won’t wow you, they figure to be very much in tournament contention this year. The path to get there should be pretty simple at this point. The truth is they really can’t afford to squander any home games from here on out. Not to over simplify but if they win out at home and snag a road win or two along the way they will be just fine as far as getting into the big dance goes. This game figures to be a grind on both ends. Each team prefers to play at a very slow pace so there should be no objection from Drew or Smart to get a game that’s probably around 62-64 possessions. The clear advantage I see in this game is down low where Texas should have a nice edge. Osetkowski and Hayes give them twin towers down low and at 6’9″ and 6’11” respectively Baylor should have a ton of trouble holding them down. Hayes in particular has really turned himself into a force of late as he’s shooting 76% from the field in conference play…. and no, that isn’t a typo. Mason has been the leading scorer for the Bears all year but he’s going to be tested tonight. He’s an excellent shooter and if you allow him space he’s going to make you pay. The challenge tonight will be finding that space. Coleman, Ramey and Roach are all taller and more athletic than he is. Baylor doesn’t do much inside (and that’s even more true with the Clark injury) so Shaka knows keeping Mason in check goes a long way towards winning this game. To be totally honest outside of Mason there isn’t a ton of offense on the floor. After him the only guy even averaging double digits is McClure at 10.1 a game and efficiency wise he’s only slightly above D1 average. Look back no further than Baylors last game where yes they went for 90, but Mason alone had 40 of them. Ultimately this is a much bigger game for the Horns than it is Baylor and I’m expecting them to play like that. Throw in what should be a nice edge inside and an army of perimeter defenders to throw at Mason and I think they end up with an 8-10 point win.
St. Bonaventure (+2)