Looking for betting advice for Tuesday in college hoops? See why we're eyeing an A-10 team, a Patriot League team and an under in an ACC clash.
Three Man Weave and I are back with our three favorite bets from Tuesday's college basketball slate.
Dayton at Davidson
3MW Pick: Davidson -3.5
If there was ever a time for Dayton to put all its chips in the middle, this was it...
VCU, the conference co-leader and former employer of current Flyer head coach Anthony Grant, traveled to Dayton with a bullseye planted on its back. Throw in the fact that the Rams had already beaten the Flyers in Richmond a month prior, there was no shortage of bulletin board material for Dayton entering Saturday’s showdown with VCU.
Despite all the qualitative motivational factors stacked in the Flyers’ favor, it was the Rams who raced out to a commanding lead on the road and kept their foot on the gas well into the second half. The margin ballooned to over 20 points at one point, prompting Anthony Grant to make a schematic change defensively.
“The zone (defense) to start the second half was disastrous,” Grant said. “I’ll take the blame for that. That’s on me.”
This chess move helped spark a relentless comeback and the lead was eliminated entirely by the under four-minute timeout. After an Obi Toppin and-one gave the host Flyers the lead with 15 seconds remaining, Dayton needed just one stop to seal the deal—instead, Marcus Evans played the role as villain with a soul-crushing drive-and-finish to help VCU escape with the win.
The reason for detailing that game synopsis is as follows: The Flyers poured their blood, sweat and tears into that game and had to empty the tank to mount that furious second-half comeback. Now, they have to put all that behind them, travel east to North Carolina and prepare for one of the most intricate offensive systems in all of college basketball in just 48 hours time.
Since arriving at Dayton two years ago, Anthony Grant has introduced Flyer fans to what a zone defense looks like, something rarely seen during the Archie Miller era. Grant’s done a nice job of alternating back-and-forth between man and zone defenses this season, both of which emphasize similar principles—walling off the lane and keeping opponents off the free-throw line. This conservative approach is geared to prevent any easy, uncontested looks inside, but it can be susceptible to surrendering open shots from the perimeter.
Regardless of which scheme Grant decides to prioritize tonight, Davidson won’t be bothered. Against man-to-man, Bob McKillop’s perpetual motion offense should have the Flyers’ heads on a swivel. Against zone, Davidson’s sharpshooters should have a field day with the extra real estate beyond the three-point arc. There’s also this: the Wildcats currently rank in the 95th percentile in offensive efficiency against zone defense this year (per Synergy).
Assuming Davidson continues its precise offensive execution, the key tonight will be on the other side of the ball. The Flyers’ superior size, coupled with their unselfish and balanced scoring attack, exploited Davidson’s defense last season when they took down the Wildcats 65–64 in Dayton. The Flyers aren’t elite shooters by any stretch, but their patience and collective intelligence enables them to get high percentage looks on almost every possession—according to an ‘Offensive Shot Quality’ metric derived by dribblehandoff.com, Dayton ranks third in the entire country, an indicator of how consistently the Flyers get the shot they want.
So, while the Wildcats lack an athletic rim protector needed to disrupt close proximity looks in the paint, they rarely surrender an uncontested shot due to a defensive breakdown. With an extra day off to rest and prepare, you can bet that Bob McKillop has closely examined the tape from last year’s lone meeting between the two, which will inform the necessary X&O adjustments defensively tonight. If the Wildcats can prevent the Flyers’ from dominating the paint, there’s value in laying 3.5 points at home against a Dayton team in need of a defibrillator to recharge its emotional batteries.
Bucknell at Colgate
3MW Pick: Bucknell +3
Oftentimes when betting on college basketball, some of the best value can be found in the extra games, a section of the slate mostly ignored by the common CBB gambler. One such extra game tonight features two of the best teams in the Patriot League: Bucknell, a team most have likely heard of due to its constant NCAA tournament appearances, and Colgate, a brand of toothpaste that doubles as a private liberal arts college in Hamilton, NY.
Bucknell has run roughshod over the Patriot League in recent history, winning the conference outright the last four seasons and seven of the past eight. Despite the loss of its three best players from a year ago, the Bison currently sit one game up on league foe Lehigh in the conference standings at 11–3. The biggest driver to Bucknell’s success this season has been the emergence of senior center Nate Sestina, who is averaging 16.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg, making Bucknell fans say “Nana WHO???” (not really, that’s too far). The Bison play through Sestina in the low and mid-post, ranking 31st in the country in percentage of possessions used via post-up, and the 6’9” big man is scoring a scorching 1.158 PPP on post-ups—one of the best marks in the country. Sestina’s shooting range also makes him a particularly tough cover, knocking down 41.6% of his three-point attempts this year on a decent volume.
When not running offense through Sestina in the halfcourt, Bucknell is looking to push in transition, an area where (you guessed it) Sestina thrives as well. Dave Klatsky, an assistant coach at Colgate, mentioned on Jordan Sperber’s “Solving Basketball” podcast that he is worried about Sestina’s ability to seal early in the post on the secondary break. Indeed, Colgate allows a lot of open floor opportunities, ranking just 274th in percentage of initial FGA in transition. Sophomore PG Jimmy Sotos has excellent court vision in the open floor and he’s looking for his sharp-shooting senior leader Kimbal McKenzie and Sestina on the break for easy bucket chances.
The fact that the Raiders are worried about Sestina and his ability to beat them in the post shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Colgate is still a big team—one of the biggest in the Patriot. Rapolas Ivanauskas, Dana Batt and Will Rayman all stand over 6’8” and start for Matt Langel. Their size has attributed to their propensity for offensive rebounding, an area in which they were able to exploit the Bison in the schools’ first meeting back in January. Batt is a true center in terms of playing style, preferring to bang in the post instead of float around the perimeter, but Rayman and Ivanauskas are really more perimeter big men, giving Langel four deadly three-point options on the floor at one time.
Bucknell makes it a point to shutdown the three-point line, aiming to funnel ball handlers into the paint where Sestina and Bruce Moore can contend tough shots. This strategy should largely work against Colgate, but the playmaking ability of PG Jordan Burns throws a bit of a wrench in coach Nathan Davis’s plan. Burns may be the only true creator on the roster (Rayman is capable as well), but opposing teams can’t seem to slow him down despite the presumed increase in focus—against Bucknell in January, Burns poured in 28 points on 10-for-20 shooting. Burns’s penetration ability, particularly off ball screens, will be Bucknell’s biggest challenge in this game, as Burns can not only score off the drive but also create wide open looks for his teammates from outside the arc. Davis is a strict man-to-man coach, so 6’8” Will Rayman is going to have clean looks against the shorter Bucknell perimeter.
If you believe in revenge spots, then you’re probably on Colgate’s side tonight after the Raiders lost a tough contest to the Bison in Lewisburg earlier this year. To boot, Bucknell’s three conference losses have all come on the road, the last one coming at the hands of Holy Cross on Feb. 16. From a matchup perspective, though, this game favors Bucknell. The Bison are going to find plenty of open looks from three (Colgate allows tons of threes) and will be able to exploit the Raiders on the run. While Burns may get his again in this game, Davis’s laser focus on denying outside opportunities should bode well for his Bison in this one.
Florida State at Clemson
Meyer's Pick: Under 133 points
Who has been the top-rated team in terms of adjusted defensive efficiency since the calendar flipped to February? Not Virginia (10th at 88.5 ADJDE). Not Texas Tech (second at 81.7 ADJDE). It’s actually Clemson, as the Tigers’ 77.3 ADJDE since Feb. 1 is first by a decent-sized amount, per T-Rank.
If you add in January as well, Clemson ranks sixth in the country—behind Virginia, Texas Tech, Wisconsin, Michigan and Gonzaga. The Tigers also rank sub-300 in adjusted tempo, so this is a team that plays physical defense at a grinding pace.
The heart and soul of this Clemson defense is senior big man Elijah Thomas, who excels at shot blocking (24th in CBB in block percentage) and cleaning up the glass (47th in defensive rebound percentage). Overall, this stingy man-to-man defense is a pain to go up against, with four of the Tigers' past five opponents scoring 56 points or fewer (and being held to 0.81 PPP or less). Granted, it’s not a Murderers’ Row the Tigers have faced in that stretch (Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Miami and Louisville), but I think FSU’s offense will still have a tricky time at the Littlejohn Coliseum.
The Seminoles actually put up 1.13 PPP against the Tigers in a 77–68 win in Tallahassee on Jan. 22, but I’m banking on a below-average three-point shooting team (32.4%, 271st in Division I) not making 10 of its 22 threes again (45.5%). Both of these teams prefer to attack the rim, but FSU has the No. 1 two-point defense in ACC play (42.7%) while Clemson is second (43.0%). Clemson has the second-lowest three-point rate in ACC play, and the Tigers will have difficulty scoring against the Seminoles’ size—particularly rim protectors Mfiondu Kabengele and 7'4" (yes, you read that correctly) Christ Koumadje to go along with lengthy guards.
And remember Clemson being first in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency this month? Well, Florida State ranks sixth in February (and is 16th overall this season). These are two defenses that are playing their best ball of late, and since this is a critical game for Clemson’s NCAA tournament résumé, I’m thinking the Tigers will be playing an extremely tight, physical game at home.
These teams don’t do a great job of protecting the rock (FSU is 236th in offensive turnover rate; Clemson is 284th). They both do a great job limiting transition buckets (Clemson allows the 11th-lowest percentage of opponents shots in transition per hoop-math; FSU is 21st). I’ll take a stab on the under in a game featuring two teams that don’t shoot from outside well, have the two best two-point defenses in ACC play and will be playing a physical battle given the stakes. There simply won’t be a lot of easy baskets in this one.
I also do like the chances of a senior-laden team in Thomas, Marcquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell picking up the win here in this spot (Clemson is sitting at -1 as of 12:50 p.m. EST), but for now, I'll just stick with the under.
OVERALL RECORD: 46-41-1