College Basketball Notebook: Taking a Look at Wednesday’s Light Slate
Georgia State @ UMass
Georgia State heads to Amherst fresh off an OT loss at Dayton, but Ron Hunter’s unique morphing matchup zone should give UMass problems.
Offensively, UMass utilizes a spread pick-and-roll, primarily with Luwane Pipkins and CJ Anderson, but GSU’s active extended zone should really disrupt their sets. Per Synergy, GSU only allows offenses to run pick-and-roll on fewer than five percent of possessions. Additionally, UMass scores at just .81 ppp and turns it over at a 25 percent clip against zone defenses, which could spell trouble against a GSU hyper active zone that creates turnovers at a 22 percent rate. Much like most primary zone teams, GSU is a poor defensive rebounding team, but the Minutemen are mediocre at rebounding their misses, and they’ll probably go smaller tonight against the zone with Unique McLean at the 3.
The 3-point line is essentially wide open against GSU’s scheme, and Pipkins and freshman wing Carl Pierre have shot the ball well, particularly Pierre, who is hitting at an astounding 46 percent. I’m fairly certain that’s unsustainable for the frosh, and I’m definitely certain Pipkins’ 39 percent will plummet.
Georgia State is also fairly reliant on the pick-and-roll on offense, particularly with uber penetrator D’Marcus Simonds. UMass grades out in just the 35th percentile in ball screen defense, as Pipkins, one of the quickest ball hawks in the country, often gets caught gambling for steals, which could be a nightmare against the quick first step of Simonds.
This is likely a matchup where both teams struggle to score unless GSU can get in transition off of turnovers created by their zone, and UMass has coughed up the ball when they can’t run Pipkins off screens, as I referenced earlier.
PICK: Georgia State +5, Under 133
- St. Joe’s has the lowest offensive turnover rate in the country, which will help against the St. John’s press (although Shavar Newkirk and his surgically repaired knee hasn’t seen a lot of pressure outside of Villanova). Shamorie Ponds could get frustrated by the extremely packed in Hawk defense, but even with Marcus Lovett out, the Johnnies still have Marvin Clark and Bashir Ahmed to stretch out the compact Joe’s D.
- Providence heads to Mohegan Sun potentially without PG Kyron Cartwright, perimeter defender Maliek White and Alpha Diallo (Diallo has arguably been PC’s best player, as the Friars are +.18 ppp with him on the court, per hooplens.com). The Friars could struggle against Houston’s 1-4 high motion if Diallo and White are indeed out. Rob Gray, a master at finding open shooters after drawing help defense in Sampson’s offense, should have plenty of holes to exploit if the Friars are down two of the best defenders. [UPDATE: Per Brendan McGair of the Pawtuckett Times, Diallo and Cartwright will try to play.]
- I’ve touted North Texas and Grant McCasland more than anyone this year, as he’s one of the best game planners in mid-major basketball and has the advantage of game planning for the Hoyas last year in a game his Arkansas State team won. Mean Green get healthier tonight with the likely return of Jorden Duffy in the backcourt, but they will have major issues against the massive Georgetown frontcourt. In last year’s matchup, McCasland zoned the Hoyas, who shot 3-20 from 3. However, UNT has primarily played man this year, allowing offenses to shoot 74 percent at the rim, the fifth worst mark in the country per Hoop-math.com, and the Hoyas run everything through Jessie Govan and Marcus Derrickson at the rim. UNT will compete if they can effectively collapse in the paint, as McCasland will have his team better prepared than Pat Ewing.
- Seton Hall looks to rebound from a somewhat shocking loss to Rutgers, which led to an odd situation with Jordan Walker, who quit and apparently returned (?) after expressing disappointment with his playing time (seems like there’s more to the story). As for Wagner, they’re healthier with Romone Saunders, who just played 20 minutes in his first action in nearly two years. Bashir Mason’s Wagner teams play an aggressive man and crash the offensive glass with reckless abandon. They’re not fluid offensively, but their aggressiveness requires 40 minutes of attention, which may be tough for a SHU team in a weird head space. Wagner attacks the rim relentlessly off the dribble with JoJo Cooper and Blake Francis, who will try to get Angel Delgado and Ish Sanogo in foul trouble early.
- Greg Kampe will surely have his Oakland squad in a primary zone tonight against attack-heavy Towson, but with injuries in the frontcourt, he risks giving up offensive boards, a point of emphasis with Pat Skerry teams. Kampe may also not want to push injured Kendrick Nunn in a meaningless OOC game.
- Hofstra is a strong press break offense (essential against Manhattan’s zone pressure) with multiple ball handlers who can score off the dribble, especially if Desure Buie plays like he did against Stony Brook. A chaotic press and subsequent 2-3 zone in the halfcourt make the Jaspers a poor defensive rebounding team, which is problematic against Rokas Gustys.
- Northeastern is exploitable in the post, but St. Bonaventure literally runs nothing through the post, so the question is whether the bigger but slower NU perimeter defenders can handle Jay Adams and Matt Mobley in ball screens. I’m guessing no, but the Bonnies have a huge game with Syracuse on Friday.
- Rough matchup for Washington State, as they thrive in transition and pick-and-roll in the halfcourt. Kansas State shuts both down, as they lead the nation with the lowest FGA rate in transition (by a substantial margin per Hoop-math), and Bruce Weber’s long, athletic backcourt can switch on everything in the halfcourt.
Wednesday’s Top Picks (YTD: 135-133-2):
Georgia State +5
Georgia State/UMass under 133
North Texas +8.5
Utah State -19.5
Kansas State/Wazzu under 145.5