Georgia @ Missouri
In last year’s meeting between these teams, we saw the infamous assistant coach fight at halftime. Mizzou has an entirely new staff, but UGA surely remembers the incident.
Missouri shoots the 3 at the 34th highest rate nationally, by far the most prolific 3-point offense Cuonzo Martin since his first season at Missouri State a decade ago. A fair amount of this ideological shift can be chalked up to losing Michael Porter Jr., but kudos to Martin for recognizing his team can shoot (seventh nationally in 3PT FG%). Even more impressive has been Missouri’s ball movement without a true point guard. The Tigers rank 48th nationally in assist rate despite Martin benching senior point guard Terrence Phillips in favor of freshman Blake Harris and Jordan Geist. Although Harris recently left the team, so Phillips should get back in the rotation.
Missouri’s prolific 3-point offense starts with Kassius Robertson at the 2 and Jordan Barnett at the 3. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Georgia’s best defenders rest at those positions in Jordan Harris and Rayshaun Hammonds. Per Synergy, Hammonds grades out as one of the best individual defenders in the SEC, allowing just .6 points per possession. And the 6-foot-8 Hammonds will bother Barnett on the perimeter. Georgia held similarly constructed offenses in Ole Miss and Marquette to a combined 17-55 from 3.
Georgia runs their offense either through Yante Maten in the post or a Turtle Jackson ball screen. Jontay Porter has become Missouri’s best post defender, but the savvy inside-out vet Maten masterfully draws contact at the rim. The young Porter could get in early foul trouble. Maten and Nic Claxton should also continue to dominate the offensive glass against a mediocre defensive rebounding Missouri team. When the offense doesn’t go through Maten, Turtle Jackson should exploit Jordan Geist, who struggles defending in ball screens.
Given Georgia’s ability to disrupt the perimeter, this is a tough matchup for the Missouri offense. Additionally, Georgia’s offense will have plenty of second chance opportunities if their shots aren’t falling.
The Pick: Georgia +5.5
The struggling Horns’ offense will miss the shooting of Andrew Jones (illness). However, Shaka Smart wants Texas to run more, which could work against a poor TCU transition defense. When not in transition, Mo Bamba and Dylan Osetkowski can dominate inside against TCU’s Vlad Broziansky, who allows 1.11 points per post possession. Offensively, TCU has some of the best ball movement and spacing in the country thanks to a spread attack with four distributors. Defending the versatility of Kenrich Williams, the shooting of Desmond Bane, and the athleticism of Jaylen Fisher places a serious strain on defenses. However, Bamba’s ridiculous wingspan could disrupt their flow, as he blocks shots, defends well on the perimeter, and denies entry passes to the post. It’s hard to rely on Texas’ offense, but they can exploit a few key advantages at home against a struggling TCU defense.
The Pick: Texas +1.5
Rashaan Holloway is not expected to play for UMass. However, per Hooplens, UMass scores .98 points per possession with Holloway, and 1.08 ppp without him. La Salle, who should get B.J. Johnson back, struggles to defend ball screens, but that shouldn’t hurt them tonight. While UMass runs one of the most pick-and-roll heavy offenses in the country, they score a horribly inefficient .79 points per possession off the ball screen. La Salle’s spread offense revolves around attacking with Pookie Powell and Johnson, and Umass simply can’t guard the length of Johnson in isolation.
The Pick: La Salle -2
I expect a tremendous home defensive effort from Arkansas after surrendering 1.17 points per possession in a two game road losing streak. From Bob Holt at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:”Trust me,” Anderson said before Monday’s practice, we’re going to ramp it up. That’s got to be the attitude, he said. We’ve got to be more defensive-minded, and getting stops and creating havoc. That’s going to be our aim as we get ready to play this game.” Tremont Waters and LSU, a very good ball screen offense, should struggle against an outstanding Arkansas ball screen defense. Dan Gafford, one of the SEC’s top post defenders, can also neutralize Duop Reath. Defensively, Will Wade mixes in different zone looks with his man-to-man, but the Hogs torch zones (1.21 points per possession). LSU’s defense focuses on shutting down the primary scoring option by sagging off the worst offensive player. Wade is willing to play 5 on 4 to accomplish that goal, but that won’t work against a well balanced Arkansas squad.
The Pick: Arkansas -9
Wednesday Top Picks:
La Salle -2
Western Carolina +6.5