I really wish I could make money picking money lines. I am sometimes terrible against the spread but so far in this challenge I am 6-1 picking winners. I should have stuck with my gut feeling Virginia Tech would boat race Iowa. The Hokies look absolutely unstoppable at times. Georgia Tech pulled out a win at the buzzer after Northwestern went on a 12-0 run to actually take the lead late in the second half, and Purdue predictably handled Louisville. I was surprised FSU didn’t win by a wider margin, but again, home court matters so much in college basketball. Wake Forest also handled Illinois as once again the Illini perimeter players underwhelmed.
On to tonight’s games, which is a far superior slate when compared to last nights games. I am looking forward to all of these games.
Penn St (-1) @ NC State 7:15 ESPNU
First off, that spread. That is Vegas fucking with you. Let the public bet the Nittany Lions up to -3.5 or -4 and the money line to get to a nice comfortable + number, and then bet the Pack to win outright.
I do like this Penn St team, Tony Carr and Lamar Stevens are really nice players and Shep Garner has been underrated all of his career, but the Lions have played only one power five conference team up to this point (Texas A&M), and they lost. They have also yet to play a true road game.
North Carolina State already has a nice pelt on the wall having beaten Arizona last week, but it was somewhat diminished when they followed that up with consecutive losses to UNI and Tennessee.
In both Wolfpack losses they shot horribly from deep, 11-46 to be exact, good for 24%. So far this year the Nittany Lions have allowed opponents to shoot 36% from deep, good for 245th in the country. One of my favorite things to look at early in the season is how these power five conference teams play DEFENSE against these mid to low majors. That can be telling in my opinion. If that stat holds up tonight and NC State is able to get good clean looks for Freeman, Dorn and Hunt, look out. Combine that with State almost certainly pressing the shit out of Tony Carr and this game could get out of hand.
Prediction: NC State 72 Penn State 65
Clemson @ Ohio State (-3) 7:15 ESPN2
I didn’t know what to make of the Buckeyes before the season. A bunch of podcast guys I listen to were picking them to finish last in the B10 and really down on them. The emergence of CJ Jackson has certainly been a pleasant surprise, while the ineffectiveness of Kam Williams early on has been surprising. The least surprising developments thus far is Keita Bates-Diop blooming into a star, and the team appears to be well coached under Chris Holtmann. Their last two games they beat a decent Stanford team and played a tough Butler team close, ultimately losing by 1 point. The Buckeyes early on don’t seem to hang their hat on one particular aspect of the game as all of their numbers on defense and offense are just kind of “eh”, which leads me to want to think they are still finding themselves, or that those podcasters were on to something with their preseason projections.
What are we going to do with Clemson? They looked really good in the opener against Western Carolina (I know.), but then looked pretty bad against Temple, and really uninspiring against Texas Southern. Donte Grantham has looked awesome early on, a big forward who can can handle it a little bit and has a cash jumper from the foul line area, he has been one of my favorites to watch so far. Elijah Thomas is averaging nearly a double double and is the emotional fire driving this team, while the back court of Mitchell and Reed has been really good as well. Expect Mitchell to shoot better moving forward, he is far better than a 29% shooter that he currently is representing.
I want to pick the Tigers here, but in the last two years Brownell’s teams are 6-15 in true road games. Holtmann is a far superior coach and the Buckeyes are at home playing for conference pride after the B10 had a terrible showing in night two. Bates-Diop vs Grantham is going to be a great match-up and worth the price of admission, but I expect KBD to get the better of Grantham here.
Prediction: Ohio State 65 Clemson 60
Michigan @ UNC (-9.5) 7:30 on the Mothership
I admittedly have yet to see Michigan play. Jon Beilein is still the coach right? Ok, I will go ahead and make the assumption that they run an effective offense and are well disciplined.
The Kentucky transfer Charles Matthews is a hell of an athlete that leads the Wolverines in scoring at 17 a game, and Moritz Wagner and Duncan Robinson are still doing their thing. Michigan is in the top 100 in almost every category both defensively and offensively with the exception of rebounding. They don’t seem to do that very well (again, just looking at numbers).
UNC had been playing pretty well until the debacle against Michigan State in the PK 80. You can’t really hold that against the Tar Heels, State is arguably the most talented team in the country. I have been really impressed with the way Kenny Williams has played in the absence of Cam Johnson. The junior swingman has averaged 16 points over his last four games, and is shooting 56% from deep on the season. Somewhat surprisingly, Sterling Manley, the least heralded front court recruits from this years class, has been the most effective freshman for Roy Williams. The 6’10 true freshman is averaging 7 points and 6 rebounds in under 13 minutes per game, and has a defensive rebounding percentage of a crazy 33%.
I wonder about Michigan’s firepower in this one, they are an efficient team, but I don’t see a guy on their team that is a “killer”, North Carolina has that guy in Joel Berry, who excels in big game situations. UNC at home should win this game, but it should also be a really good game. I think Michigan covers, but UNC wins outright.
Prediction: UNC AFA 78 Michigan School of Business 74
Miami @ Minnesota (-5.5) 9:15 ESPN2
This is the game of the night for my money. Both teams are currently in the top 12 in the country and have two of the most talented, well rounded starting fives in the country. This game will have shooting, blocked shots and big dunks.
Minnesota is destroying people and already owns wins over Providence and Alabama on the young season. Jordan Murphy has logged a double double in every game this season, and Nate Mason has cut down on his turnover rate while increasing both his usage rate and point produced. Reggie Lynch has also been the defensive anchor that everyone has come expect, logging 31 blocks and 7 steals in the first seven games of the season. Freshman Isaiah Washington (Jelly Fam! no idea what it means but, whatever, I’m hip dammit) has also been fantastic off the bench, averaging 8 points and 3 assists in 20 minutes per game.
Miami, while being undefeated on the season at 5-0, has yet to put it all together on the court. A team loaded with perimeter talent, the Hurricanes only have two players averaging double digits. Both Lonnie Walker IV and Bruce Brown have yet to have a stat sheet stuffing game we have all been expecting. Brown showed some flashes in the first few minutes of his last game with a couple early dunks, but still hasn’t found the range, shooting 23% from deep. Meanwhile, Walker has been a bit banged up and is only averaging about 20 minutes per game. He has also not shot the ball particularly well from deep, connecting at a 27% clip. Walker has also yet to attempt more than 8 field goals in a game, which given the teams depth isn’t entirely surprising, but against the competition they have been playing, I would have expected at least one offensive explosion. Dewan Huell has picked up the slack, averaging 13 and 7 while shooting a crazy 72% from the field. That production is also coming in only 22 minutes per game, his per 40 game average is currently 24 and 13 a game.
Given Miami’s inability to shoot from deep early on this year (34%), I don’t like their chances here. This is not a “get right” game for the Canes. Huell is going to have his hands full against a front court of Lynch and Murphy and I expect him to struggle a bit. Miami has enough talent and coaching to keep it close, but ultimately Minnesota is going to add another nice OOC notch to its belt.
Prediction: Minnesota 86 Miami 78
Boston College @ Nebraska (-2.5) 9:15 ESPNU
I am not going to spend a whole lot of time on this game. Boston College has the talent and at times has looked pretty good, but against bad competition. They were boat raced by Texas Tech on a neutral court and lost by 20 to Providence in their only true road game this season. Ky Bowman has been really good so far this year, but I still don’t like him running the point guard spot against better competition, regardless of his performance in the Providence game. Jerome Robinson has shot the ball well from deep but his overall numbers are a bit down. If he goes off BC could easily win this game.
Nebraska has put up 84.5 points in it’s last two games, both at home and we all know that Boston College does not play a ton of defense. Keep an eye on Evan Taylor tonight, for some reason I have a feeling he is going to be a huge factor in this game, he is currently 5-7 from deep on the season and as a bigger guard at 6’5, may see some nice opportunities here. Obviously Glynn Watson is the star here but he is going to need some help from both Isaac Copeland (who Nic Popovic won’t be able to guard) and Palmer to pull this out. The home team in the Challenge is 6-1 this year, I’ll take the Huskers.
Prediction: Nebraska 67 BC 65
Duke (-9) @ Indiana 9:30 ESPN
I probably wont spend a ton of time on this game either, I don’t understand this line at all. I actually took Duke at (-10) thinking it would be 13 by the time the line closed.
Indiana is about to experience the down season before Archie Miller turns them into a consistent Sweet 16, Elite 8 program once again. Robert Johnson and Juwan Morgan are really nice players, but they are secondary options on top 25 clubs. Al Durham is a player I really like but he is a year away and Josh Newkirk is not a point guard I am going to rely on against P5 competition. The players are on the way next year Hoosier fans, so be patient.
Duke beat Michigan State without Marvin Bagley III. Duke went to Oregon and beat Texas and Florida. They are the unanimous #1 team in the country and the favorite to win the national championship. What else is there to really say? Indiana was hosed on this draw.
This clearly means Indiana is going to pull of a Fort Wayne type upset tonight.
Prediction: Duke 87 Indiana 63