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!
Detroit made shockwaves last year when they defeated Oakland on the road as 19 pt underdogs. While not quite as much an outside tonight, it will still be a mammoth task for the Titans with the absence of Jones and Hogan, who in particular had a monstrous game in the upset. Still, the Titans are a team we feel is better than perceived and the Golden Grizzlies are probably their chief rival at the moment. The Golden Grizzlies defense has shown some holes and we believe the Titans can have enough success from outside to keep this within reason.
This is a particularly bad match up for the undersized Bulldogs as Missouri State's Alize Johnson will be a handful on the inside. Drake's success generally depends on their outside shooting but this is an area that the Bears defend very well. Home court is not enough to overcome the disadvantages for the Bulldogs!
We were a bit surprised when Carla Suarez Navarro came from a set down to beat Kaia Kanepi in the last round. However, before we get carried away with the bare result we would like to point out that Kanepi appeared to lose the plot. In fact, all CSN had to do was return the ball and let her opponent make the mistakes. 22 year old Anett Kontaveit needed three sets to get past both Jelena Ostapenko and Mona Barthel, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t play well. On that note, we thought she regathered herself well to beat Ostapenko, because to do that she had to refocus after being hit for 6-1 in the second set. We believe the Estonian has the potential to make it much higher in the rankings, and she’s particularly game once getting deeper into the tournament. Kontaveit has the game to beat passive players and her tenacity around the court should be too much for the Spaniard.
When Magdalena Rybarikova suffered serious injuries in 2016 we thought we had seen the last of her. Afterall, she had been struggling for a while, and her results over the past decade meant she wasn’t making a particularly good living. However, after what we can call a normal return at ITF level the Slovakian started winning a couple of lower graded tournaments. That progressed to WTA and in july the now 29 year old went on to make the semi final of Wimbledon. And, all of that was good enough to get her a career high rank of 21 and a place in the end of season WTA Elite. So far this week Magdalena has beaten Kirsten Flipkens, Taylor Townsend and Kateryna Bonderenko, and we were particularly impressed with the latter. We don’t have to go into Caroline Wozniacki too much has she’s always been one of the better players on tour. However, the former number one hasn’t overly impressed this week, and it’s easy to imagine her opponent at least getting within the handicap. Afterall, 5.5 games is a lot!
Las Palmas have been desperate this year, and much of the blame has got to be given to the club owners for trading policy. The owners clearly thought replacing departed players with loanee’s would be good enough, but that tactic has clearly backfired. From what we have seen new coach Paco Jemez will struggle to put this team together, because their is simply no balance. The Valencia owners adopted a much different policy, in that they went wild in the transfer market. Results so far have take Los Che into a fantastic third in the league table, and they come into this match having won 4 of their 5 competitive games since the start of the season. One of those was a 4-0 win over todays opponent Las Palmas, while the match in this stadium ended 1-1. Valencia also won the season opener against the visitr (1-0), and if anything that side have gone downhill since then! Los Che are doing fantastic - more of the same.
Despite winning last seasons second division by 4 points, Venlo were expected to be one of the weaker sides in this seasons Eredivisie. One of the reasons for that was lack of ambition by the club, and by that we mean failure to spend money during the summer. Den Haag have always worked on a tight budget, and the fact is they were close to bankruptcy back in 2008. Nevertheless, the Storks have now been applying their trade in the Eredivisie for the past nine seasons, and they usually manage that by taking most points at home. The hosts come into this having won three from their last four league matches against Zwolle (4-0), Roda (3-2) and Twente (2-3). They also beat Venlo (0-2) on the road, and best of all they appear to have a near to compete squad!