YTD : 5-1
3:15 / ESPN : Nebraska (4-4,5-4) @ #3 Kansas (3-4,8-1) — KU -19.5
Nebraska has tested themselves early with losses coming to UCLA, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Creighton. The major issue has been a complete lack of consistency on the offensive end of the floor. Tai Webster has done a good job of getting in the lane and putting points on the board but outside of that the Huskers do not have another player they can rely on for a bucket.
On the other side, Kansas has been about as solid as you can expect ranking 5th in offensive efficiency and 6th in defensive efficiency. Frank Mason and Josh Jackson have both placed themselves in the NPOY conversation and have led this team on both ends of the floor. They also have a strong rotation of core players in Graham, Mykhailiuk, and Vick. Carlton Bragg has been a major disappointment but that may have just worked itself out since he is currently in a jail cell for domestic violence charges. I think this could be addition by subtraction actually as this will open up even more minutes for Azubuike and Landen Lucas.
The one major weakness on the defensive end of the floor for KU has been defending the 3 but this should not be a problem in this one as Nebraska is shooting 29% as a team, with Webster being the only player on the team shooting over 33%. Kansas will do anything and everything they want on the offensive end of the floor and the Huskers are going to have trouble getting to 50 today. This will get ugly early and extend to a full on blowout in the 2H.
BET : Kansas -19.5
4:00 / ESPN 2 : 35 Wichita St. (5-2,8-2) vs. Oklahoma (3-3,6-2) — Wichita St. -4
Wichita St. has turned it all the way up on the defensive end of the floor this year, ranking 3rd in defensive efficiency, while turning opponents over and forcing bad shots all over the court. I love what McDuffie has brought to this team and the Freshman Landry Shamet has been and awesome floor general for the Shockers. They have one of the deepest rotations in the nation, going 10 deep with very minimal drop off at any point throughout the game.
The Sooners have been playing at one of the quickest tempo’s in the nation and have been lights out from deep, shooting 42% as a team. Woodard and Lattin have been a good 1-2 punch inside/outside and I really like the progression of Christian James in his 2nd year. OU has been excellent at limiting quality paint opportunities but have a real liability defending the deep ball, allowing 37% from 3. This could be a major issue in this matchup.
Wichita St does an excellent job of running through Gregg Marshall’s sets on the offensive end, which ultimately result in open looks more often than not. They are really going to make OU work on the defensive end and the undisciplined Sooners will not be able to keep up. The Shockers will get way too many open looks from 3 and even if they are not knocking them down they will have plenty of bodies on the offensive glass for easy put backs.
BET : Wichita St. -4
6:00 : Montana (3-5,3-6) @ Wyoming (5-1,6-2) — Wyoming -3.5
McManamen and Justin James have been leading this Wyoming squad to a solid start for what could be a tournament team come March. Montana has been a team that has a different leading scorer just about every game but have not gotten any sort of consistency. These two teams already matched up already in mid-November at Montana and Wyoming came out with a 1-point win on the road. Wyoming’s home court in altitude is a different story. Wyoming should be able to turn them over a bit, score without much trouble and limit Montana’s easy looks. The biggest issue for Montana in this one will be the ability of Wyoming to get in the lane and ultimately to the foul line (22-27 FT in 1st game). I’m rolling with the home team to win and cover this one fairly easily.
BET : Wyoming -3.5
6:00 / BTN : UConn (1-5,4-4) @ 28 Ohio St. (3-4,7-2) — Ohio St. -9.5
Ohio State has been one of the more up and down teams so far this season. They played tight and probably should have won @Virginia just before two extremely subpar performances in their last 2 against FDU and Florida Atlantic (L this one at home in OT). The main issue in the FAU game was a lack of communication on defense and inability to get out on the perimeter shooters, which resulted in ten 3’s for FAU. This has been a problem for the Buckeyes all year long.
Good news — UConn can’t throw the ball in the ocean! Jalen Adams and Rodney Purvis are the only two threats on the offensive end of the floor but neither one can shoot from range and Adams would much prefer to get in the lane off the bounce. This plays right into Ohio State’s length, especially with KBD back in the lineup. It is going to be a real struggle, once again, for UConn to put points on the board. Ohio State, meanwhile, will come to play in this one and prove a point after the embarrassing loss to FAU. Also something to watch, sneaky good matchup down low in this one between Amida Brimah and Trevor Thompson. I expect Thompson to win the matchup and this will be a huge game for Keita Bates-Diop.
BET : Ohio St. -9.5
8:00 / ESPN 2 : Michigan (2-4,7-2) @ #2 UCLA (7-2,9-0) — UCLA -9
This will be a classic clash in styles as Michigan will want to slow the game down with a very deliberate offensive approach, while UCLA will want to get out and run. Michigan has shown some signs of getting out in transition more recently but there is no doubt they are a grind it out offense, as Beilein loves to get into his sets and let the execution of the offense win out. Michigan has a very, very solid rotation of guys that will give the Big Ten problems all year long. However, Michigan can grind it out all they want but they had better be making shots because this UCLA team is extremely aggressive on the boards and will limit 2nd chance points, while turning long jumpers in transition buckets in a hurry. I have been unbelievably impressed with the number of weapons the Bruins have on the offensive end of the floor as you legitimately have a reliable scorer in Ball, Holiday, Hamilton, Alford, Leaf and Welsh. They can beat you in so many ways, have an excellent mix of inside and outside threats, and are extremely unselfish. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again but Aaron Holiday is a true game changer. The continued improvement of Anigbogu down low has also given them a really strong defensive presence inside. UCLA’s plethora of options will be too much for the team up north tonight.
BET : UCLA -9
That’s it for today. 5 plays and I fully expect a 5-0 day to add to our strong start to the season. Stack some cash boys!