Virginia enters this game as the #2 team in the country and is a perfect 6-0 in conference play with their only loss to non-conference opponent West Virginia, another top 5 team in the country. The Cavaliers have another top defense this year and Tony Bennett's pack line system has been tough to crack. Wake Forest has struggled mightily in conference play with just 1 win against an ACC opponent but there are some things in play that we feel give the Demon Deacons a chance to make this game competitive. Wake Forest size in the middle with their 2 7 footers already give them a good rebounding edge but should give them some crucial 2nd chance opportunities on the offensive glass and this is one of the areas that the Cavaliers struggle a bit with their zone-like defense. The Demon Deacons also spread the floor and move the ball well with good shooters in the backcourt although they will of course be tested against an excellent perimeter defense. The Demon Deacons are limited on defense but the Cavaliers prefer to play very slowly and we feel this is a large number given the circumstances. Wake has clearly struggled but against a team with a somewhat similar profile in Syracuse (though of course not nearly as polished as Virginia), the Demon Deacons were able to pick up their only conference win earlier this year, downing the Orange at home 73-67. While a win might not be too realistic, we believe the Demon Deacons have some favorable matchups to keep this within single digits. All the better that this will be a nationally televised standalone game in what should be a sold out arena!
Iona nearly had a meltdown on Friday, blowing a double digit 2nd half lead but in the end, held off Monmouth for their 5th win in a row and 6th in conference play. The Gaels sit at 6-1 in conference and are tied with their opponent today, Canisius, for the lead in the MAAC. In fact, it was the Golden Griffins that dealt the Gaels their only conference loss back in late December and we can't imagine things will be too much different this time around besides the obvious home court advantage for the Gaels. Iona's defense has been lacking and we believe the visitors to be the more well rounded team. There should be no shortage of motivation as this is for the lead in the MAAC and we believe the Griffins can keep this within a single possession.
Siena is just 2-5 in conference play but the Saints have shown some encouraging signs lately, including an outright win over a very good Canisius team and nearly pulling off an upset on the road against Iona. We took a chance on Quinnipiac against Niagara and despite holding a large lead in the 2nd half, the Bobcats were atrocious down the stretch and couldn't even cover the spread at the end. As you would expect, the Bobcats don't do much of anything well and their rebounding is quite poor although when these teams met earlier in the year, the Bobcats did manage a surprising 32-21 rebound advantage. Nevertheless, we consider this an anomaly and in fact, as it ended with a Quinnipiac win, we believe this will give the Saints even more motivation to return the favor. Saints to win comfortably.
We don't see too much difference between these teams to warrant a spread larger than 3. In fact, it is the Jaspers who have done better in conference play with a 4-3 record in the MAAC and have 2 road wins at Marist and Fairfield. Saint Peter's, meanwhile, has been in terrible form, losing their last 3 games and sit at 2-5 in conference play. Both teams focus on defense and play at a slow pace and thus we have a hard time seeing either side winning by too much margin. The Jaspers actually played well against Canisius, holding the Griffins to just 68 points on 40.7% shooting but turned the ball over 19 times. We see this as more of an anomaly and the Peacocks will have to have a terrific shooting night to win this by more than 4 in our opinion!
Long Beach St simply does not defend well enough for us to ever want to lay points with them. Ranked near the bottom 50 in the nation in that regard, the 49ers do have some scorers but are error prone which is compounded by the break neck pace they play at. The Titans don't mind a fast game and come into this match up in good form, winners of 4 out of their last 5 and should be able to go toe to toe with the 49ers, who may also have one of their key contributors in Bryan Alberts sidelined with an injury.
USC plays at a moderate pace to begin with and this is a bit of a deviation from the recent past where they were one of the fastest teams in the nation. But it's noticeable the last 5 games that the Trojans have slowed it down even more letting their opponents dictate the pace of play. The Trojans' scoring is still highly efficient but face an Oregon St team with an improving defense and one of the slowest teams in the country. We expect the Beavers to put forth the same formula as they did against UCLA and based on recent form, we see a tight lower scoring game with good defenive rebounding that doesn't have enough possessions barring overtime!
UAB should be kicking themselves for losing against Western Kentucky on Thursday as they firmly took control in the 2nd half only to completely crumble down the stretch. In any case, the Blazers are a team we rate very highly and they have the shooters to keep up with this Thundering Herd team that we believe still have a major liability on defense. UAB should dominate on the glass and perhaps will have a bit more luck with fouls and free throws this time around.
It's been very much a down year for the Seahawks but to their credit they have fought hard and made a game of it against Charleston on Thursday. The Seahawks have covered 3 in a row but face a Towson team that's been steamrolling their opponents and have really found some form of late. The Tigers have won 4 of their last 5 and their offense has really come to life shooting 50% or better in 4 of their last 6 games. Towson is a defensive team first and foremost and they are capable of covering this number based on the strength of that alone.
Jacksonville St had a tough time getting by Morehead St much as we predicted but in the end, the Gamecocks came away with the win. They have struggled a bit in their last 2 games but this presents the perfect opportunity to get back on track against a very poor Eastern Kentucky team that is actully winless at home in conference play. The Colonels don't do much of anything too well and will be at a severe advantage on the glass and defend the 3 ball extremely poorly. Visitors should win with minimal fuss.
Coastal Carolina has really struggled in conference play, losing their last 6 games after a 90-65 win over UT-Arlington back in late December. We expected as much as this Chanticleers team has been overrated by the market and face a Trojans team that's beginning to find its footing with a win over South Alabama and 3 covers in their last 4 games. Aside from their poor away record, the Chanticleers have really struggled from long range which was about the only thing that would give them a chance to make this competitive. We don't see that changing today
TCU brings one of the most dynamic offenses in the entire country and we have a hard time seeing the Wildcats keep up. The Horned Frogs got back on track with a 96-73 blasting of Iowa St to follow up 3 tough losses. The Wildcats got a huge upset over Oklahoma but they will face a Horned Frogs team that, unlike Oklahoma, can pile on the points in the interior, something the Wildcats do not defend well. We make the visitors the favorites!
Hofstra is on a bit of a run winning 3 in row and 5 of their last 6. We are not the biggest believers in the Pride as their defense has limitations but we believe the hosts are a bit overrated. Charleston has struggled against offensive teams and their defense is not up to par from previous years. We see a rebounding advantage for the Pride as well and it will take an extremely poor shooting night for the Pride to be unable to keep this within a single possession!