March Madness In November

IT’S MARCH MADNESS IN NOVEMBER WITH MICHIGAN STATE, DUKE, KENTUCKY & KANSAS!

Yes, they’ve been playing college basketball for a few days since the season officially tipped off late last week. But, they haven’t been playing basketball like THIS! It’s going to feel like March Madness in November when ESPN televises the following doubleheader Tuesday Night from Indianapolis:

Michigan State vs. Duke
Kentucky vs. Kansas

That’s the Preseason #1 team (Kentucky) facing Preseason #5. And, perennial November warriors Duke (Preseason #4, and known for peaking too early!) vs. perennial championship threat Michigan State (Preseason #19, known for peaking when it MATTERS!).

All four teams have already taken the floor in tuneups. Duke toyed with Presbyterian and Fairfield. Kentucky did the same with Grand Canyon. The other two teams were a bit sloppy out of the gate, and failed to cover opening spreads.

  • Kansas (-16) only beat Cal-Santa Barbara 69-59 thanks to 16 turnovers and a soft 2 of 10 performance on three pointers. The names of the players may change. But, team tendencies stay amazing consistent from year-to-year under the same coaches.
  • Michigan State (-17) barely survived Navy in a 64-59 grinder. Sparty had 15 turnovers, and only made it to the free throw line 10 times.

For matchups like this, it’s best to review prior season numbers to regain your sense of the programs. Here are JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats, which you can read yourself for all college basketball teams at the website of guru Ken Pomeroy. Note that Pomeroy adjusts offensive and defensive efficiency for caliber of opposition.

Offensive Efficiency in 2013-14
Michigan State: 117.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #12)
Duke: 123.5 per 100 possessions (ranked #2)

Kentucky: 117.6 per 100 possessions (ranked #10)
Kansas: 116.8 per 100 possessions (ranked #14)

That’s four of the 15 best offenses last year. They go about it in different ways...but they get the job done. Duke tends to rely too heavily on three-pointers, which makes them more vulnerable in a tournament format because it’s hard to avoid a cold spot or two in consecutive big games. The others are better suited for tournament play because they attack the basket.

Defensive Efficiency in 2013-14
Michigan State: 96/2 per 100 possessions (ranked #28)
Duke: 102.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #116)

Kentucky: 96.9 per 100 possessions (ranked #41)
Kansas: 96.3 per 100 possessions (ranked #31)

Of course, Duke’s big problem playing to expectations last year involved their defense. They were horrible by Dance standards when it came to getting stops on a per-possession basis. That’s how you lose to a team like Mercer! Not long after you lose to a team like Lehigh. Coach K needs to coach more defense! The other three teams were all very similar on this side of the floor after you adjust for pace. Speaking of that...

Pace Ranking in 2013-14
Michigan State: #209
Duke: #190

Kentucky: #236
Kansas: #93

Kansas was the fastest of the group...the only team that really tried to push tempo to take advantage of their athleticism. Kentucky was big last year, so slowed down to play more of a halfcourt game. Coach Calipari coaches to his talent, and isn’t respected enough for his abilitgy to do so.

Against the Spread in 2013-14
Michigan State: 20-14-3
Duke: 18-16-1 ATS

Kentucky: 19-16-3 ATS
Kansas: 16-18-1 ATS

These teams are on TV all the time...so oddsmakers tend to pin things down pretty well. And, lines are usually shaded a point or two against these teams because of public betting patterns. So, Michigan State consistently getting the money represented a fantastic sustained performance.

The only serious tweaks you need to make to the indicator information involves the following...

  • DUKE tends to play great in November because the tactical choices of Coach K really pay off against relatively inexperienced opponents. The Blue Devils are generally overrated at the end of the year in the ACC Tournament and NCAA’s....but often really are a true superpower in November and December.
  • KENTUCKY and KANSAS tend to have so many “one and done” stars that they can appear sluggish out of the gate. Kentucky is once again getting hyped as a team so talented that they might run the table. People said that last year and they could only manage a mid-level seed! (Though, they did put it together at the right time!). These teams may be better later than they are right now.
  • MICHIGAN STATE almost always starts with some sluggishness before really hitting their stride in conference play and the postseason. It’s amazing how often pollsters and oddsmakers disrespect this team early, only to see them standing tall and the end of the season once again.

JIM HURLEY knows how much you love watching yourself win on TV. He’ll do his best to have a selection in at least one of these games...and may ultimately have a TV PARLAY when it’s all said and done. You can purchase the final word for Tuesday right here at the website with your credit card. Try to take care of business early because there are so many DAY GAMES! If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours.

Great basketball continues tomorrow as we move to the NBA for San Antonio at Cleveland. Before the season started, that was the money bet for the NBA Finals. Can LeBron James take the Cavs all the way? Or, is the team too short on depth and defense? Are the Spurs getting too old to win another trophy? We’ll talk about that and more Wednesday in the NOTEBOOK to get you ready for that huge ESPN telecast.

For now, your HOOP DU JOUR is this two-course NCAA DOUBLEHEADER DELUXE from Indianapolis. Go DUNKING FOR DOLLARS with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

25
Sep

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