Game By Game Friday NCAA Previews
GAME-BY-GAME STAT PREVIEWS FOR FRIDAY'S DANCE CARD
No time to rest! You've been enjoying the first big day of action from the NCAA tournament. Here are our stat previews for the 16 games being played on Friday. We'll go in schedule order for the regionals, then in order of starting times for each game so you can make notes as things progress.
If this is your first time reading the NOTEBOOK, we're focusing this year on the computer ratings posted by Jeff Sagarin of USA Today and college basketball guru Ken Pomeroy. We're also posting offensive and defensive efficiency rankings (scoring adjusted for tempo and opponent) as tabulated by Pomeroy.
FRIDAY'S GAMES IN GREENSBORO
Alabama (9): 29 in Sagarin, 29 in Pomeroy, 109 on offense, 9 on defense
Creighton (8): 25 in Sagarin, 34 in Pomeroy, 5 on offense, 183 on defense
Vegas Line: Alabama by 1.5, total of 132
Wow...very even teams according to the computers...who both might deserve to be slotted two seeds higher based on those rankings. But, we have EXTREME differences in styles given that one is great on defense while the other is great on offense. We generally prefer defense as you know. And, we sure weren't impressed with Creighton against the athletes of Wichita State in the second half of the season. If only Alabama's basketball team had the athletes of their football team. Arguably one of the most interesting first round matchups in terms of evenness and styles.
Vermont (16): 147 in Sagarin, 120 in Pomeroy, 145 on offense, 107 on defense
N. Carolina (1): 6 in Sagarin, 5 in Pomeroy, 13 on offense, 12 on defense
As we mentioned yesterday, we're not going to devote too much space to the 1-16 games because there's not much to say beyond the obvious. We will give you an early heads up that North Carolina usually has one or two games every year in the Dance where they don't look nearly as good as their defensive rating would suggest.
Lehigh (15): 92 in Sagarin, 86 in Pomeroy, 81 on offense, 102 on defense
Duke (2): 11 in Sagarin, 17 in Pomeroy, 9 on offense, 62 on defense
Vegas Line: Duke by 12, total of 148
The market says this is going to be the most competitive game of the 2-15 bunch this year. That's a low line for those seedings. You longtime readers know that we're generally not fans of Duke in postseason play. They almost lost a 2-15 game a few years ago, and might make this interesting. Still, we're more likely to make a stand against the Blue Devils in a later round than tonight in Greensboro.
Xavier (10): 55 in Sagarin, 59 in Pomeroy, 26 on offense, 127 on defense
Notre Dame (7): 42 in Sagarin, 40 in Pomeroy, 52 on offense, 59 on defense
Vegas Line: Notre Dame by 2.5, total of 124
Both of these teams were on our go-against list coming into the tournament, so it's a shame they matched up against each other. Notre Dame looked awful last week in the Big East event, and was waxed last year in this tournament by FSU. Xavier has poor computer ratings for an at-large team...and may not truly be Dance caliber. Amazing how many breaks Duke gets in this tourney through the years! If Duke beats Lehigh, they'll either play a 7th seed who the computers say should be a 10th seed, or a 10th seed who the computers wouldn't have included.
FRIDAY'S GAMES IN COLUMBUS
NC State (11): 45 in Sagarin, 44 in Pomeroy, 33 on offense, 75 on defense
SD State (6): 46 in Sagarin, 52 in Pomeroy, 83 on offense, 40 on defense
Vegas Line: NC State by 2.5, total of 137
Tough spot for the California kids, who have to play before 10 a.m. body time in the early game in Ohio. Maybe that will make up for the ridiculously high seed the committee gave them. SDSU hasn't really impressed down the stretch (particularly when compared to New Mexico), and grades out as a 12-13th seed in the computer ratings. How did they get a SIX?! We like what we saw from NC State last week in the ACC. The market did too, as it's rare to see an 11th seed laying a bucket to a 6th seed.
Belmont (14): 33 in Sagarin, 23 in Pomeroy, 12 on offense, 78 on defense
G-town (3): 14 in Sagarin, 12 in Pomeroy, 47 on offense, 7 on defense
Vegas Line: Georgetown by 3.5, total of 133.5
Another game where the market disagrees with the seedings. How often do you see a three laying a number that small to a 14? The teams are just all messed up in this region, as we documented for you the other day. Oddsmakers anticipated sharp support for Belmont, and made the line extremely low. Have they gone too far? They did last year when Belmont was matched up against Wisconsin. Georgetown must end their nasty habit of getting shocked early.
Saint Louis (9): 19 in Sagarin, 15 in Pomeroy, 36 on offense, 10 on defense
Memphis (8): 13 in Sagarin, 9 in Pomeroy, 19 on offense, 11 on defense
Vegas Line: Memphis by 3.5, total of 129.5
Look at those computer ratings. We talked about this game the other day. This is basically a 4-5 game in the brackets according to the computers...really a 3-5 given how much respect Memphis is getting. Horrible draw for both....and unfair to these two plus Michigan State that their stuck in the same hunk of games.
Long Island (16): 159 in Sagarin, 165 in Pomeroy, 78 on offense, 272 on defense
Michigan St. (1): 3 in Sagarin, 3 in Pomeroy, 11 on offense, 3 on defense
Vegas Line: Michigan State by 20, total of 154.5
Another projected laugher. Hard to imagine a defensive differential bigger than 3-272!
FRIDAY'S GAMES IN NASHVILLE
Texas (11): 27 in Sagarin, 27 in Pomeroy, 23 on offense, 48 on defense
Cincinnati (6): 34 in Sagarin, 31 in Pomeroy, 51 on offense, 27 on defense
Vegas Line: Cincinnati by 2.5, total of 129.5
Interesting game. The computers say Texas is the better team, in what is basically a 7-8 type matchup (or, an 8-9 since there's no such thing as a 7-8 matchup). The market though is in agreement with the seeding committee that Cincinnati is the better team. They're just not as high priced as you normally see in a 6-11 game (second tightest line this year at the moment). We'll be studying the Big 12 and Big East closely on Thursday to try and gain some insights for this one. Will Connecticut-Iowa State be a precursor, or a red herring?
St. Bonny (14): 61 in Sagarin, 51 in Pomeroy, 38 on offense, 88 on defense
Fla. State (3): 21 in Sagarin, 21 in Pomeroy, 63 on offense, 14 on defense
Vegas Line: Florida State by 6.5, total of 130.5
We talked in our prior report about how the 14 seeds have some really good numbers this year. St. Bonny won the Atlantic 10 tournament last week with solid play. They can definitely hang tough here if Florida State lets down off their more prestigious win in the ACC tourney. There's just not much difference this year between the 3-14, 4-13, and 5-12 games. Should make for some exciting finishes.
Ohio (13): 72 in Sagarin, 72 in Pomeroy, 114 on offense, 50 on defense
Michigan (4): 23 in Sagarin, 25 in Pomeroy, 21 on offense, 51 on defense
Vegas Line: Michigan by 6, total of 125
Two even defenses, but a much better offense for the Wolverines. If there are early signs that the Big 10 is overrated, then we'll have to look at Ohio as a possible dog. Plenty of information will have been learned by the time this night game tips off. Michigan is seeded about two spots higher than the computers say they should be. Michigan is a four but Memphis is an eight!
S. Florida (12): 70 in Sagarin, 66 in Pomeroy, 178 on offense, 16 on defense
Temple (5): 36 in Sagarin, 36 in Pomeroy, 20 on offense, 98 on defense
Temple didn't impress us last week in the A10 tournament. And, we've mentioned a few times this year that their defense isn't as good right now as it has been in the past. Don't kneejerk your way to thinking this is a typical Temple team. That era is over. There's still quality here. But, the computers agree that Temple is more like a 9th seed than a 5th seed. Heck, the computers ranked California as better than Temple!
FRIDAY'S GAMES IN OMAHA
Virginia (10): 26 in Sagarin, 26 in Pomeroy, 106 on offense, 5 on defense
Florida (7): 17 in Sagarin, 19 in Pomeroy, 3 on offense, 119 on defense
Vegas Line: Florida by 3.5, total of 121
Great game...and another case where both teams probably should have been seeded more favorably. The computers make Virginia about a 6th or 7th seed, while Florida is in the 4-5 range. Either team is capable of hanging with Missouri if they advance...though that poor defensive ranking for Florida (by tournament standards) is going to be an issue against good offenses. Interesting clashes in strengths and weaknesses here, similar to Creighton-Alabama. The good news from a fans perspective is that the screwed up seedings have created some "round of 32" quality games in the "round of 64."
Norfolk St. (15): 182 in Sagarin, 213 in Pomeroy, 239 on offense, 177 on defense
Missouri (2): 7 in Sagarin, 8 in Pomeroy, 1 on offense, 76 on defense
Vegas Line: Missouri by 21.5, total of 144.5
Norfolk would have been a 16th seed given proper evaluation according to the computers, so this isn't a game we're going to spend much time on. Missouri may post a very high number given their talent, pace, and that poor 177th ranked defense trying to guard them. Could be a garbage time finish though, where the bench decides who gets the money.
Purdue (10): 28 in Sagarin, 24 in Pomeroy, 6 on offense, 100 on defense
St. Mary's (7): 35 in Sagarin, 43 in Pomeroy, 22 on offense, 103 on defense
Vegas Line: St. Mary's by 1.5, total of 140.5
We've been saying all year that we'd be looking to fade St. Mary's in the Big Dance. We've also said we'd be looking to fade the Big 10. So, once again we have a clash. Not much line value if you want the power conference dog. St. Mary's is overseeded based on the computers, and based on the eye test against Murray State in the Bracket Busters.
Detroit (15): 119 in Sagarin, 115 in Pomeroy, 74 on offense, 178 on defense
Kansas (2): 4 in Sagarin, 4 in Pomeroy, 8 on offense, 8 on defense
Vegas Line: Kansas by 14, total of 142.5
A bad sign for Detroit that Cleveland State was non-competitive in the first round of the NIT. We haven't had much time this week to discuss the hints that were provided Tuesday and Wednesday on the NIT scoreboard. You can be certain that we've been studying those games with a fine-toothed comb. We have to keep some secrets safe for our customers!
Game day releases are going up online early every day this weekend because of the split sessions. Be sure you take care of business before the earliest games tip off. You can do that with your credit card here at the website. Or check out the late games, and sign up in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
We'll be back with you tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK, using Thursday boxscores to preview Saturday matchups. We'll do the same thing in a Saturday report that will preview Sunday with the Friday boxes. Stay with us around the clock so you know what's REALLY happening in the NCAA tournament!
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