College basketball schedule today has 18 games
It is a pretty busy day on the college basketball slate for this time of year, as we have eight games in the NCAA Tournament to go along with six in the NIT and four in the CBI. The CBI is being played down in Daytona Beach, while the NIT is being played at campus sites until the semifinals and championship game at Orleans Arena here in Vegas.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m getting the article up overnight so that it has a little bit of lead time because there are so many afternoon games on the weekends and in the NCAA Tournament. That will change this week because the Sweet 16 will be later in the day on Thursday and Friday and the other tournaments will play night games. (Tracking sheet)
We’re keeping you up-to-date on the second round on the VSiN College Basketball Betting Podcast and we’ll have plenty for the Sweet 16 coming up as well.
Here are some thoughts on the March 19 card (odds from DraftKings):
(As a quick heads up, I’ll be listing games by tip-off time, not rotation number for the NCAA Tournament)
Michigan State is absolutely a step up over Vermont, but it was really impressive to see how Marquette defended in the halfcourt against the Catamounts. Marquette actually didn’t force many turnovers, but still held Vermont to .969 points per possession. I fully expect the Golden Eagles defense to do well against Michigan and I think the offense can have a high rate of success as well.
Let’s start with one of the main parts of my handicapping strategy and that is to look at shot selection. Marquette’s shot share on Close Twos is 41.4% (37th), while Michigan State’s is 29.1% (355th). Not only did Marquette get to the rim at a far higher rate than Michigan State, but the Golden Eagles also finished at a 65.1% rate, which ranks 20th in the nation. Sparty is 61st in shot share against on Close Twos, but Big Ten teams weren’t exactly adept at getting to the rim. Their 61.5% FG% against on Close Twos ranks 278th. In terms of shot share on Close Twos, only Indiana was above 40% and only three Big Ten teams were above 37%.
Michigan State does shoot the 3 well, but they are so reliant on long jumpers, while I think Marquette gets to the rim a lot. Furthermore, teams in the Big Ten really don’t see a lot of ball pressure in the frontcourt or the backcourt. Michigan State has a great TO%, but did turn the ball over in the loss to Rutgers and the loss to Northwestern, which are two Big Ten teams that actually force takeaways.
I feel like this is a really solid Marquette team and Michigan State doesn’t match up all that well in my opinion.
Pick: Marquette -2.5
We could see a real high-scoring affair in the CBI between Milwaukee and Stetson. This is a de facto home game for Stetson, which is located just 22 miles from the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. Neither team has reached the postseason much, but I feel like Milwaukee may be in better shape being able to travel and just be together as a team. It feels different than just bussing 20 minutes down the road for a game.
But, more than that, Milwaukee had a great first season under head coach Bart Lundy and this is a chance to build on a really good year. The Panthers rank in the top 100 in eFG% offense and defense. Stetson is 29th in eFG% offense by shooting 38.6% from 3, but 307th in eFG% defense. This is a pretty classic case of a game where one team gets to the rim and the other team doesn’t. Stetson is wholly reliant on 3s. Nearly 44% of their shots are 3-point attempts and they just pass the ball around the perimeter looking for clean looks.
Milwaukee did a great job of protecting the rim and packing in the defense, but that led to a 3P Rate against of 41.6%. Horizon League teams didn’t capitalize and Milwaukee did pretty well closing on shooters, as they rank 45th in 3P% defense. The Panthers are a good shooting team themselves, sitting above the national average in 2P% and 3P%. What hurt Milwaukee was a 21.5% TO% on offense that ranks 343rd, but Stetson ranks 348th in TO% on defense. They don’t force many of them and that should help Milwaukee.
All in all, Milwaukee has a safer offensive profile and is easily the better defensive team between the two. If Stetson lights it up from 3, so be it, but I think Milwaukee is the better team and they’re getting points.
Pick: Milwaukee +2