Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Today's Games

Today is the first huge day for college basketball, with two monster match-ups (KU vs. UK, and Duke vs. MSU) and two other pretty good games (Wich. St. at Memphis, Utah at San Diego St.). Then there are a bunch of intriguing games, including Marquette at Ohio St.

Actually one of the best games of the day has already ended: Northern Iowa at Stephen F. Austin, an OT thriller. SFA had a layup lip-out at the buzzer - HUGE road win for Northern Iowa, which was #30 in the preseason T-Rank. That's the first home loss for SFA in almost three years.

But let's talk about the games to come.

Kansas vs. Kentucky - Vegas Line: Kentucky -6.5; O/U 143.5 - T-Rank: Kentucky, 72-70.

I'm a Kentucky skeptic. If you were paying attention, you might have noticed that they were not among my predicted one-seeds in the NCAA tournament:

This doesn't mean I think they suck, just that the hype is way, way over the top. Seth Davis is talking about 40-0 again (or, at the "very least" an undefeated SEC campaign). It won't happen. The Platoon is a terrible idea if your goal is to win basketball games. It is a good tool for maintaining your identity as "a Player's Program," where recruits are promised playing time even at the expense of team performance. And that's what will happen.

For a while. Eventually Cal will abandon the Platoon and settle into a normal 8 or 9 man rotation, because that's what works. But then what will happen with the benched 5* guys on the bench, especially if there's an upset loss? I foresee too many losses to get a 1-seed. But obviously they have the talent to win the national title.

In any event, the T-Rank line is diverging almost a full five points from the Vegas line, so T-Rank's money is on the Jayhawks.

Duke vs. Michigan St. - Vegas Line: Duke -7.5; O/U 144.5 - T-Rank: Duke, 77-67

Duke has risen to number one in the T-Rank power ratings on the strength of gigantic blowouts over cupcakes. So it's reasonable to think the T-Rank line is inflated.

But what do we have in Michigan St.? They squeaked by Navy, which then proceeded to lose to Notre Dame by 39. In fairness, the MSU game was at Navy. But still.

The 2.5 point difference between the line and the T-Rank is enough for me to go ahead and take Duke to cover in this game.

Wichita St. at Memphis - Vegas Line: WSU -8.5; O/U 142.5 - T-Rank: Wichita St. 72-71

Big delta in the lines here, and that's explained by the fact that T-Rank doesn't know about Memphis's exhibition loss to Christian Brothers. Given that, I wouldn't bet on this game. But exhibition games are notoriously weird, and I don't expect Memphis to get rolled over at home. Could be a good one.

Utah at San Diego St. - Vegas Line: SDSU - 4.5; O/U 130.5 - T-Rank: 70-64

A nice west coast match-up.  T-Rank was slightly less optimistic about SDSU (#32 preseason) than most humans (#16 in both polls). Utah was #25 in the T-Rank and the polls. But the T-Rank power ratings incorporate Dan Hanner's ratings and the Pomeroy ratings, and Utah's opening win over lowly Ball St. wasn't terribly impressive, so the current rankings are SDSU #24 and Utah #38. Still, I have a lot of questions about these teams, and will be interested to see if any of them get answered tonight.

Other B1G games:

Matchup Vegas Line T-Rank Prediction
Marquette @ Ohio St. OSU -12; O/U 136 Ohio St., 75-63 (87%)
Western Kentucky @ Minnesota Minn. -11 Minnesota, 76-64 (87%)
Central Arkansas @ Nebraska No line Nebraska, 87-58 (99%)

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