South Dakota State @ North Dakota State
The last six Summit League titles have been won by these two teams, and unless South Dakota has something to say about it, the path to the NCAA Tournament could still very well run through the Jackrabbits and the Bison.
If you made one of those useless word cloud things when prepping for the Jackrabbits, it would just be a massive MIKE DAUM. Daum is starting his third season torturing the Summit, and what’s made him so difficult to game plan for is that he keeps adding gadgets to his game. He’s expanded his shooting range every season, improved his dribbling, and improved his passing out of double teams. The question is no longer simply: “How do you defend him in the post?” It’s: “How do we as a team defend him?” Daum requires so much defensive attention and game planning (do you double, do trap him on the perimeter, do you let him get his and take away everyone else?), and South Dakota State head coach T.J. Otzelberger went out and added a much-needed slashing two guard in frosh David Jenkins Jr. SDSU’s ability to shoot the 3 extremely well as a team (40.2 percent) is what makes the Jacks’ offense hum, and they have lights out shooters at the 2-5 positions. Point guard play, however, has been a bit of an issue. Brandon Key has certainly shown flashes as an electric playmaker in his first year in Brookings, but his turnover rate has really hindered the offense when he’s on the floor, and this graph from Hooplens.com really shows that disparity:
TEAM/LINEUP SUMMARY TABLE
On Floor: Key, Brandon
|Points Per Pos||1.09||1.23||1.00||0.99|
That’s an incredibly dramatic split in offensive efficiency, and explains why Otzelberger has turned to defensive specialist Tevin King on the ball.
Defensively, the Jacks have quite a few holes. Otzelberger mercifully abandoned the 1-3-1 he tried to employ halfway through last season, and the Jacks are a straight up man-to-man team this year, but there are liabilities at the 3 and 4. Otzelberger tries to combat that with some defense for offense substitution patterns involving Chris Howell, but the problem tonight is that the strength of North Dakota State’s offense lies with a trio of 6-foot-6 wings in Paul Miller, Tyson Ward and A.J. Jacobson.
NDSU head coach Dave Richman uses Miller and Ward in some fairly ingenious ways. He’ll have Miller on the ball and in pick-and-roll to expose some bad switches mostly, but he’ll use him in “4-Up” sets where he tries to get him against a less mobile opposing 4. Richman also runs a lot of Mark Few’s “Bulldog” sets for Jacobson and Ward to get opposing bigs out of the lane and guarding in space. Like Jenkins for SDSU, the Bison have their own high-impact freshman off guard in Cam Hunter, who has developed into a steady spot shooter who can put the ball on the floor when you overplay the 3. That said, the strength of the Bison is clearly on the defensive end. NDSU isn’t flashy on that end, as they don’t gamble for steals and they don’t throw out any funky zones — they simply defend well between the ball and the basket. Traditionally, Dexter Werner has done a pretty good “limiting” Daum, but obviously that’s no longer an option, and the frontcourt trio of Deng Geu, Spencer Eliason and Dylan Miller has had issues against rim-facing bigs (see Alize Johnson, see Bennie Boatwright), and there’s a realistic possibility that Daum drops 40 tonight.
Overall, while the Bison have a fundamentally sound defense, their weakness lies in the frontcourt, and that’s not ideal against the Dauminator.
- Georgia is coming off a tight battle at Rupp Arena against Kentucky, but the Bulldogs are a good transition defense and a solid pick-and-roll defense, both essential against Ole Miss‘ often four-out offense. Georgia isn’t a terrible zone offense, but I would expect Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy to use a lot of the extended 1-3-1 and 2-3 to keep the ball out of Yante Maten’s hands as much as possible. Ole Miss was blown out at home in last year’s meeting, as the Rebs went 2-19 from 3 and 17-32 from the stripe.
- Coach Ed Cooley loves to mix in different defenses at Providence, but against Marquette the game essentially depends upon if/how you slow down Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard off ball screens, as the Golden Eagles are equally efficient against man and zone. They’re quick and elusive, and though undersized, crafty enough to get their shot off over longer defenders. PC has been OK in ball screen defense, but the numbers are skewed a bit because Alpha Diallo’s injury took one of the Friars’ best defenders out of the equation for a few games. On the other end, Marquette isn’t very good. Rowsey and Howard’s lack of size makes them poor defenders, and Cooley is always solid at exploiting his versatile length between Diallo, Rodney Bullock and Jalen Lindsey. Of course the wild card in all this is Kyron Cartwright’s ankle. The Friars are two totally different teams with a healthy Cartwright and a banged up Cartwright, and if he’s as limited tonight as he was vs Creighton, PC can’t keep up with the Golden Eagles.
- Wake Forest’s offense is as ball screen dependent as any offense in the country, but of course that’s not how you beat the Syracuse 2-3, which virtually makes it impossible to even run pick-and-roll. That said, the Deacs have been more efficient against zones than man this year, but Coastal Carolina’s junk zones are hardly comparable to the vaunted Cuse defense. Wake did score at 1.12 points per possession at the Carrier Dome last year, but that was with the departed John Collins dominating at the rim, and the Deacs still lost. Interestingly, I’m more concerned about Cuse’s pick-and-roll and zone offenses. Danny Manning has been using a lot more 2-3 zone this year, and the Deacs have been solid against pick-and-roll heavy teams (like Cuse). However, the Deacs have been getting killed on the offensive glass when in zone, and the Orange have been dominant in that area. Typical for a Jim Boeheim team, this is just Syracuse’s second true road game of the season.
- Per Hoop-math, Tulsa’s super compact defense is allowing the seventh-lowest FG attempt rate at the rim in the country. Frank Haith uses his team’s athleticism to induce contested jump shots, whether in a sagging man-to-man or in a 3-2 zone. Haith could also get his best perimeter defender DaQuan Jeffries back tonight, although likely in limited minutes. The problem here is UConn doesn’t really look to score at the rim all that often, as they’re almost solely reliant on Jalen Adams off ball screens. That said, this isn’t a good jump shooting UConn team, as they shoot 30 percent from 3, and streaky Terry Larrier is the only “shooter.” On the other end, UConn’s post defense and ball screen defense have been outstanding, so points are likely at a premium in this one.
- Florida State is an elite pick-and-roll defense with their length all over the floor, but they tend to struggle with UNC because the Heels 1) can match their length and 2) don’t run pick-and-roll much in Roy Williams’ motion and secondary break offenses. FSU has been exceptionally poor on the defensive glass without Christ Koumadje, which is troublesome given UNC’s offensive putback prowess. FSU is going to need a hot shooting night from Braian Angola and the Walkers against UNC’s underscreening defense to win tonight.
- UC Riverside’s Dennis Cutts was “Lane Kiffin’d” by the Highlanders’ AD. It’s a curious move not just because of the timing, but because they have to pay Cutts through 2020, and this is a program that’s notoriously low on funds. Regardless, Cutts’ assistant Justin Bell is now in charge as UCR opens Big West play at CSUF. Interested to see if Bell mixes defenses like Cutts, who used a 3-2, 1-3-1, and 2-2-1 soft press frequently. CSUF runs a lot of ball screens for Khalil Ahmad and Kyle Allman, which is hard to utilize efficiently against those zones. The Titans have the highest FT rate in the country, and despite the frequent zone bases, the Highlanders foul at a steady clip.
Wednesday’s Top Picks (YTD: 189-184-3):
UConn/Tulsa under 139
Wake Forest -1.5
SDSU/NDSU over 146.5
NC State/ND under 151.5
Utah St PK
*all lines via Pinnacle at time of publication
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