Bold predictions for 2017-18 Big Ten men's basketball season

This is a big Vegas spread, but understandable. If Michigan shoots the lights out like they did against Oklahoma State, obviously they can win this game, but if the shots aren't falling at above season average rates, they don't match up well against Louisville. Gonzaga -3 over West Virginia: They play too many white guys, damnit! Iowa had the worse scoring defenses in the Big Ten. Top Basketball Bookmakers

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Not many people have mentioned the size Luke Garza and depth of this team. Iowa is a hungry bunch that will wreak havoc on the league. The Big Ten will have four teams in the Sweet Sixteen this year. Northwestern will be a matchup nightmare for NCAA tourney opponents and Iowa will be peaking at the right time to make a run. The Nittany Lions will go dancing for the first time since Pat Chambers finally has this program ready to breakthrough in his seventh season in State College.

Chambers has had just one postseason appearance with the Nittany Lions, getting to the CBI in Persian Gulf Pro League. Serie C - Group C. Serie D - Group A. Serie D - Group B. Serie D - Group C. Serie D - Group D. Serie D - Group E. Serie D - Group F. Serie D - Group G. Serie D - Group H. Serie D - Group I. Division 3 - Group 3.

Division 3 - Group 4. Division 3 - Group 6. Segunda Division B - Group 1. Segunda Division B - Group 2. Segunda Division B - Group 3. Considering that Florida will likely not be getting as many baskets as they usually get off of turnovers, this game will likely come down to whether or not Florida hits their outside shots at a high rate. This is definitely a game to enjoy, but it's not really one where anybody can have a strong opinion on who should be favored. Personally, I just think Virginia is a slightly better team than an Egbunu-less Florida.

Purdue PK over Iowa State: I took Purdue in my bracket simply because I think they're a really tough match-up for Iowa State.

And defensively, I'm not sure that I buy that Iowa State will have big mismatches with Burton against defenders like Haas - if it is Burton and not Monte Morris who is Iowa State's primary playmaker then that is a huge problem for the Cyclones. Purdue's three-point defense is very strong as well. There were no significant upsets, no buzzer beaters, and really just a handful of tough finishes against the spread. But don't get down, because we have a second day coming up, and we all know that we never have a super crazy day both days of the Round of On any given day, any team can beat any other team, and one result simply does not a sensible narrative make.

When a 15 seed defeats a 2 seed, nobody says that this proves that the 15 seed should have been seeded higher or that the RPI sucks for having the 2 seed so high, so if Wichita State or Oklahoma State loses today it says literally nothing about how accurate the computer ratings are. I picked Oklahoma State to win this game outright.

Oklahoma State has just been playing so well over the last month and has a point guard in Jawun Evans who can take over. Also, Oklahoma State's aggressive crashing of the glass will pose problems for a Michigan team that, despite a lot of height, doesn't really have a lot of "size" and can be out-muscled in the paint. Also, as a general rule of thumb, I like betting against teams that just pulled off miraculous conference tournament runs, as a form of statistical regression.

Statistically, Baylor is a hard team to figure out. New Mexico State relies heavily on second-chance points to score, and Baylor was just st in the nation in defensive rebounding rate, yet Baylor also led the Big 12 in defensive rebounding rate in conference play. Baylor has historically struggled at defensive rebounding under Scott Drew, but having watched them plenty this year I believe in the in-conference stats.

The fact is that Baylor has played an inordinately large number of elite offensive rebounding teams. As good as New Mexico State's rebounding stats are, they've been inflated by playing in such a weak conference. For Arkansas to win this game, they need a huge performance from Moses Kingsley. Angel Delgado is a monster for Seton Hall, and if Kingsley gets in foul trouble then the Arkansas front line drops off in quality and size very quickly.

Seton Hall's front line is very athletic and aggressive, and I don't know if Arkansas will be able to handle that. The Razorbacks were just 13th in the SEC in defensive rebounding rate. Flying across the country to play Oregon doesn't sound like fun, but at the same time it's hard to justify a 15 point spread.

Sagarin has the spread at 16, but Pomeroy only has it at 13, and Chris Boucher is a massive loss. If Oregon covers, it'll likely be because Jordan Bell annihilated Iona on the glass. The Gaels had a miserable defensive rebounding performance in the MAAC title game, and so they'll need to clean that up.

It's hard to totally justify a Jacksonville State is a feisty team that both can get hot from outside and has a 7-footer who is a significant defensive presence.

I wouldn't be completely shocked if Jacksonville State keeps this game competitive. This is a big spread, but if you believe the advanced metrics on SMU then the Mustangs are a good value here. In addition, SMU was 8th in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, and are going against a USC team that was 10th in the Pac in defensive rebounding percentage, despite a relatively tall front line.

Jordan McLaughlin will be a match-up problem, but I'm skeptical that he's good enough to overcome SMU's overall talent advantage. Texas Southern is literally the shortest team in the nation just one of their top six minute earners is over 6'4" , which might be a problem against a North Carolina team that has wings who are 6'8", and which led the ACC in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.

Obviously the backdoor cover is always an option in a game like this, but I'd be stunned if this isn't a rout. Rhode Island PK over Creighton: Creighton hasn't dropped off too much without Mo Watson, but their offense has become more dependent on outside shooting. Rhode Island's three-point defense led the Atlantic Ten, and they have a pair of athletic, aggressive front court players in Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.

In general, Rhode Island suffered through some injuries this season, but they've been fully healthy and rolling for over a month now, and have a chance to really open some eyes in the NCAA Tournament. I don't have strong feelings about this line, as it's fair and will likely come down to how garbage time plays out. I'm a little uncomfortable with Kansas in general, though. They've had a lot of luck in close games this season in games decided by six points or fewer , and thus are rated as easily the weakest of the 1 seeds.

Josh Jackson will be back, but his suspension was for an ugly situation, and the team will have his controversy swirling over them. I picked Wichita State to win this game, and believe that they'll likely win, but at some point it's worth remembering that this is a really good Dayton team that is explosive offensively. There's a particular concern because of Dayton's ability to drive and draw contact - Wichita State is a deep roster, but they can be foul prone st in the nation in defensive FTRate.

This game could come down to the final shot. Duke over Troy: This line is bigger than the computers put it, but there's a reason for that and not just pro-Duke bias in public perception. Duke has suffered through a lot of injuries this season, but we knew all along that they had the most talented roster in the nation, and they've really showed it down the stretch.

They are a better team than the computers say that they are, and I expect them to roll over Troy. Usually, Bruce Weber teams are excellent at defensive rebounding, but that is not so this year. Kansas State was 9th in the Big 12, and th in the nation, in defensive rebounding percentage.

Gary Clark could potentially have a field day, particularly if DJ Johnson gets into foul trouble. With a Vegas line this small, just pick the team that you expect to win. Michigan State is a freshman-heavy team, with freshmen making up four of the eight players in their regular rotation. Unsurprisingly, they've gotten better as the season has gone along, particularly after Miles Bridges got fully healthy. I picked them in my bracket simply because I think they're the better team right now.

Kentucky over Northern Kentucky: I don't have strong feelings about this spread. I chose Kentucky simply because the Wildcats have tended to out-athlete inferior opponents and run them off the court this season, rather than just letting them hang around. I chose Marquette to win this game in my bracket. As a rule of thumb, I always like to bet against teams that are significantly over-seeded, and no team is more over-seeded in this year's bracket than South Carolina.

UCLA has become a very "public" team this season, so it's not surprising that the Vegas line is a points away from where the computers have it. That said, there are no obvious mis-matches in this game aside from UCLA just being a better team, so I don't have strong opinions on this spread, other than just fading the public.

Day 3 Picking The Lines. I could probably craft some kind of small sample size narrative out of that if I really wanted to. Anyway, the appetizers are over and the main course is here. The best sporting event in the world is getting ready to tip off with 16 games. As good as this Princeton team is, Notre Dame is a bad match-up for them. The Irish are very well coached, and will be prepared for the Princeton offense. At the same time, they are not dependent on the turnovers and free throws that Princeton is so good at taking away.

Bonzie Colson also seems like a massive mismatch considering the Princeton front line. Virginia is not a team that tends to play down to its competition. Their defensive pressure is so fierce, particularly against a small team that doesn't hit outside shots particularly well. UNC Wilmington did get some easy baskets by leading the Colonial in defensive turnover rate, but Virginia is always solid with the ball.

The line is very fair in this game and I don't have strong feelings one way or the other. Butler is obviously very likely to win, but Winthrop is a team that can be pesky, particularly on the defensive end. Butler does not have a particularly formidable front line as far as power teams go, and Winthrop has a strong defensive interior presence in 6'8" Xavier Cooks. I wouldn't be surprised if this game is very competitive at halftime. South Dakota State obviously isn't winning this game, but it will be fascinating to watch Mike Daum play against the huge Gonzaga front court.

His athleticism and range will make him a difficult defensive match-up, as I'm not quite sure who Przemek Karnowski is going to be able to defend on this roster. South Dakota State got blown off the court by California and Wichita State back in non-conference play, but their level of play is so much higher now than it was a few months ago.

They are an awfully difficult 16 seed, as far as potential 16 seed draws go. West Virginia over Bucknell: Bucknell is a team that has struggled with turnovers and which has an undersized front line that doesn't rebound well. That makes West Virginia's frenetic press and offensive rebounding attack a nightmare match-up.

I'd be stunned if Bucknell made a serious run at winning this game. East Tennessee State is just an awfully dangerous 13 seed, having won at Mississippi State and nearly taking out Tennessee. Their ability to create fast break opportunities and draw contact could test a short-handed Florida front line that has been missing John Egbunu for close to a month. Middle Tennessee -1 over Minnesota: They are so balanced and steady on both sides of the ball, and I worry about Minnesota's ability to score consistently against any kind of decent defense.

Vanderbilt -2 over Northwestern: Vanderbilt is a tough match-up for Northwestern in two key ways. First, Luke Kornet is going to be a hassle for a Northwestern front line that gets pretty small after Dererk Pardon. Second, Vanderbilt's tendency to launch tons of three-pointers and to score in bunches presents a problem for a Northwestern team that likes to grind out low-scoring games.

The Wildcats were just 12th in tempo and 9th in offensive efficiency in Big Ten play. If Northwestern wins this game, it'll likely be because Vanderbilt's outside shots aren't falling. Xavier isn't the Top 20 team that they were with Edmond Sumner, but they've righted the ship over the last couple of weeks and are playing solid basketball. Maryland, of course, had yet another season where luck in close games led them to finish higher in the standings than where their statistical peripherals said that they were.

My biggest concern for Maryland in this game is their front line holding off a Xavier team that led the Big East in offensive rebounding rate and FTRate in conference play. It's hard to have strong feelings about a game with a spread like this. Villanova could dominate most of the game and Mount St. Mary's could backdoor cover. The reason I'm choosing Villanova is because they have a history of not fooling around with inferior opponents, and because I think they'll come out motivated to look good considering how disrespected they've been in the media heading into the Tournament.

They're perhaps the best team in the tourney and they are the defending national champs, yet you basically never hear about them.

These days they get more of their easy buckets from second chance opportunities than off of their defensive pressure, with a couple of ferocious big men in Mo Allie-Cox and Justin Tillman.

But Saint Mary's has a ton of front court talent and actually led the nation in defensive rebounding rate. None of VCU's top seven minute earners are over 6'7", which will make Jock Landale a match-up problem.

And that is particularly because Vermont's three-point defense is so good, and because their front line is fairly big and strong as far as America East teams go. Purdue should win, but don't be surprised if Vermont keeps this one very competitive into the second half. Florida State over Florida Gulf Coast: But this is a very different team these days.

They're no longer DunkCity, they're now the team playing at the st fastest tempo in the nation, and which led the Atlantic Sun in defensive efficiency in conference play. Florida State's defensive rebounding isn't good, but they have a massive size advantage, and should get plenty of offensive rebounds themselves. A lot of this game will come down to what you believe three-point defense is. My regular readers, of course, know that I'm with the analytic orthodoxy here. And if Virginia Tech isn't pouring in threes, they will get annihilated on the boards, and just don't have a defense capable of stopping an efficient offense like Wisconsin has.

I'll take the Badgers. Arizona over North Dakota: Being a foul-prone team, as North Dakota is, is never a good sign against an Arizona team with a vast athleticism advantage and which also hit Also, North Dakota's defense was strongest in its ability to force turnovers, and as a general rule I'm skeptical of high defensive turnover rates from small leagues against elite major conference talent.

Nevada held opponents to Iowa State is an outside shooting team that I expect will get a lot of open shots. The Cyclones are vulnerable to big teams that can get after the glass, but Nevada is not that kind of team. There's always something just a little weird and unsatisfying about First Four games.






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