Wednesday, November 22
Princeton Tigers +3.5 (5 Units)
The Princeton Tigers hit the official road for the first time this season and I'm not concerned at all. In fact, it's probably the only reason why the oddsmakers have made the underdogs in this game which I find quite ridiculous. After finishing in 5th place in the BCA Classic at Ohio State about 10 days ago, the Tigers have been eager to hit the court and get back to action. Having been off for 10 days could definitely have these guys rusty to start the game but when you are good defensively, things tend to come easier even if you have been off for a long time. I find it strange that their tournament opener, they allowed an unusual 68 points to Loyola Chicago but I am not too concerned about the points allowed right now. The team recovered nicely and beat VMI by five points in their next game and then went on to crush Alabama A&M to finishin with the fifth spot in that tournament. They held A&M to only 39 points which definitely shows me that they want back to basic and played some hardcore Princeton basketball. They will surely have their hands full tonight against Manhattan but in their only ever meeting, the Tigers had no problems beating the Jaspers 77-48 at home in 1998. Princeton is averaging 62 points per game in their opening three and have done it on 45.5% shooting. Manhattan have allowed 64.3 points per game this season on 44.3% shooting which means the Tigers should be able to get points. Kyle Koncz and Justin Conway both need good offensive games to have a chance in this one and I see them having success. The Tigers can shoot the lights out from downtown, averaging 9 three pointers made per game on 39.7% shooting from beyond the arc. I would to see Princeton attack the bucket tonight because Manhattan love to foul and they love to foul to the point of no return. The Tigers give up a lot of size to most opponents and they don't have any big rebounders. They do however have some very quick players and those quick players love moving the ball around. Marcus Schroder doesn't score much but he does lead this team in assists and is a great ball handler. Princeton have turned the ball over only 13.3 times per game in their opening three games, which is well below the NCAA average of 16 some turnovers per game. Like I said before, this is not a big Princeton team and rebounds come with team effort. They are smaller, quicker players who love to control the clock, move the ball around and hit the three point ball. The Jaspers have some quick players who can also force turnovers but in the end, I think the effiency of the Tigers will be too much for Manhattan.
The Manhattan Jaspers are favored by three and half points in this game but can I please ask why? I mean look at their three games and look at what they have done so far this season. They managed to lose to New Jersey IT, they beat Wagner by 3 points and they beat Hofstra in overtime. That is nowhere near impressive and I don't know who in their right minds would be dropping any amounts of money on this team. The Jaspers have faced three teams not even worthy of putting a line on the game and what have they done? They almost lost all three games and needed Arturo Dubois to pretty much carry the team on his shoulders. There is virtually no home advantage to speak of in this game and oddsmakers are clearly overlooking several factors of this game and basing themselves uniquely on perception of the way both teams played last year. Like I said before, these two teams met once in the past and Princeton had no problems containing the Manhattan offense on their way to a comfortable 20+ point victory. I would like to think that the Jaspers are one of those teams that plays on the same level as their opponents but that doesn't seem to the base. Manhattan is averaging 65.7 points per game this season on 44.0% shooting which is not all that bad but I can guarantee you they will have problems with this Princeton defense that has allowed 58.3 points per game this season and that has not played up to full potential just yet. Unlike Princeton, Manhattan has not attempted many three pointers in their opening three games. 50% of Princeton's shots are from beyond the arc while Manhattan's shots are mostly from a lot closer. The Jaspers are hitting only 3.7 three pointers per game to open the year and Princeton is allowing only 5.7 three pointers against. Manhattan is a team that likes to big and hard to the bucket but it doesn't really work all that well because they can't hit their free throws. They are shooting only 64.8% from the FT land even though they go to the line 23 times per game. Princeton is a team that plays a pressure defense. They send opponents to the line only 17 times per game which will surely force Manhattan into shots they don't want to take. The Tigers love forcing low percentage three point shots and if they do, the Jaspers are im big trouble since they don't have hot three point shooters. The Tigers force about 17 turnovers per game so far which is good because Manhattan have been very careless with the ball so far this year and as I mentioned before, there is a strong chance that the Tigers are going to be very agressive defensively which means that Manhattan is done in this game. Princeton's defense will be too much for this ice cold Manhattan Jaspers team.
Trend of the Game:
Princeton is 7-1 ATS in their last eight games as an underdog of 6.5 points or less.
Princeton 62, Manhattan 58
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets +2 (3 Units)
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets wowed the world yesterday by completing a 16 point comeback in the second half against a Memphis team that looked like they were going to runaway with the win and play in the finals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Well the Yellow Jackets came out strong in the second half, controlled the boards from beginning to end and came up with their biggest win of the young season. Unlike NBA games, big wins like this inspire teams and what you can't forget is that this is not a regular season game. For anyone who has ever been in a tournament before, you know that all the game up to the finals mean a lot and that the adrenaline doesn't stop flowing until you either win or lose the tournament finals. The Jackets impressive win over Memphis wasn't the only impressive win of their season. They crushed Purdue in the quarter-finals of the tournament and they beat their other three opponents by an average of 30+ something points. Jeremis Smith and Ra'Sean Dickey are both going to be encouraged to crash the boards again tonight against a UCLA team that is rough tough and that will definitely give the Jackets another gut check. Georgia Tech is averaging 91.4 points per game so far this season and they have done so on 53.3% shooting which is impressive. UCLA have allowed only 68.5 points per game this season but what I find shocking is that opponents are hitting 50.5% of their shots against the Bruins and the defense has just not been there. Georgia Tech is a team that loves to work the inside and hit the high percentage shot. They rarely take three point shots but when they do, they are hitting at 40.8%. Even more encouraging is the fact that UCLA is allowing 53.3% three point shots against them and if the Jackets have an open look, I expect them to hit. UCLA's defense is too weak inside and I don't know how they can contain the GTech big men all night long without running into foul trouble or getting trampled. This should be a great battle of the O-Boards because both teams have very atheltic players who crash the boards on offense for second chance points. The guard play of Lewis Clinch and Javaris Crittenton has been outstanding so far this year and the Jackets have 18.4 assists per game which is miles above the 13.5 NCAA average. UCLA have some guys with nifty hands so the guards have to be careful. The Jackets have turned the ball over quite a few times this year which is why they have to ensure that they careful because UCLA have quick hands. This should be a great game that comes down to who can grab that big rebound in the end and if you ask me right now, I'll tell you that Georgia Tech uses momentum from yesterday and wins this in the last minute.
The UCLA Bruins are currently ranked #5 and playing against the #19 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The line seems quite low to the naked eye bettore but rankings at this point in the season don't mean much and I have been much more impressed with the way Georgia Tech has played than the way UCLA has played. The public will be on UCLA but not for the right reasons which is why I don't know what to say. Beating Kentucky by five points is impressive but I don't consider Kentucky a good team like Memphis (not even close but im not touching that game either). I was impressed with UCLA's season opening win over the BYU Cougars but I was not impressed with the 63 points allowed against Chaminade in the opener of this tournament. As if you didn't know this already but this game is for the EA Sports Maui Invitational Championship Title and both teams should be jacked up about meeting this early in the season. We all remember the Bruins and their run in the final four tournament last year but that doesn't mean that this Bruins team can be the same and that doesn't mean that they will be the same. Jordan Farmar is gone but the core of the team remains which is what makes these guys danderous. Anyways. UCLA is averaging 77.5 points per game this season on 47.1% shooting which is definitely good news for this team. However, Georgia Tech are very physival and quick and their opponents are scoring only 67.8 points per game on only 39.7% shooting. UCLA are still showing signs of being a big time undisciplined team that doesn't seem to understand the concept of shooting high quality shots. They have hit only 3.5 three pointers per game and are shooting 20.6% from three point land. Georgia Tech is a team that gets in your face when you want to shoot the long ball and they are allowing only 26.6% three point shots against in this early season. Like their opponents tonight, the Bruins love crashing the boards and the inside lanes and going to the FT line for some free points. However, they have shot only 63.0% from the charity stripe and that could be a problem in the late going of this game. I can't wait to watch the battle of the boards in this game because both teams are even on the O-Boards but Georgia Tech rebounds a lot better defensively as a team which is goign to make things hard for UCLA to do their usual thing without getting called for fouls. UCLA has not turned the ball over much this season but they need be careful in this game because the Yellow Jackets average 17.4 steals per game and have blocked 4.4 shots per game, something the Bruins have had problems with. The issue I have with UCLA is that they need to be humbled. They play lazy basketball at times and look like they are not very interested in games at others. This is a finals but they are up against a Georgia Tech team that will most likely be in the TOP 10 in the next month or so.
Trend of the Game:
UCLA is 0-4 ATS in their last four against ACC teams.
Georgia Tech 80, UCLA 73