Finding Value on Ivy League Friday
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Brown @ Yale
Since Mike Martin took over at Brown, he’s just 2-8 against James Jones and Yale in Ivy League play, and has lost six meetings in a row. However, Brown has a few advantages over an injury depleted Yale team that they have lacked in previous matchups.
Yale saw their promising season get derailed before it even began with Makai Mason’s foot injury and Jordan Bruner’s season-ending knee injury. Mason initially targeted the Ivy opener tonight for his season debut, but there has been little word as to whether that will come to fruition. Regardless, I doubt we will see his typically effective minutes if he does suit up. Without Mason and Bruner, sophomore point Eric Monroe and freshman big Paul Atkinson have had to step up. While Atkinson has provided some offensive punch and Monroe has allowed do-everything star Miye Oni to slide off the ball, they both struggle defensively.
Brown won’t exploit Atkinson’s struggling post defense, but their pace-and-space spread pick-and-roll offense will expose Monroe’s poor ball screen defense. Poor ball screen defense has plagued Yale as a whole. Even Oni allows 1 point per possession as a ball screen defender, per Synergy. Brown’s offense is designed to exploit those mismatches on screens, especially with the development of freshman Des Cambridge moving off the ball. Naturally, Martin’s pace-and-space offense will attack in transition, where Yale has been particularly porous. Yale allows 1.09 points per transition possession, which grades out in just the 18th percentile nationally, per Synergy.
James Jones’ Yale offenses typically revolve around a dynamic 4 and 5, but not this year. The Bulldogs attempt 3s at the 30th highest rate in the country. A Jones offense has not finished in the top 100 in 3PT attempt rate since the 2002-03 season, when they landed at exactly 100. With Oni the only capable scorer down low, far less offense has filtered through the post. I mentioned the development of Cambridge on offense, but he’s also wholly capable of defending Oni in ball screens. Cambridge allows just .35 points per possession against pick-and-roll ball handlers, albeit in a limited sample size. Additionally, the Bulldogs don’t excel on the offensive glass like a typical Jones team, as they have grabbed their misses at the lowest rate since 2010-11. That’s music to Brown’s ears, as they generally struggle on the defensive glass as a result of frequent four-out lineups.
While Brown is by no means an “elite” defensive group, the rise of Cambridge (on both ends) and the concurrent loss of frontcourt strength for Yale gives the Bears a legit chance to tally a win at Lee Amphitheater for the first time since 2010.
The Pick: Brown +7.5
Ivy Quick Hitters
- Princeton and Columbia grade out as two of the worst ball screen defenses in the country, but Princeton’s numbers are skewed due to a much tougher schedule loaded with ball screen heavy offenses. The return of Kyle Castlin should help Columbia, but it’s unlikely to reduce Mike Smith’s domination of possessions. While Smith, an electric scorer, commands a lot of defensive attention, the Lions’ offense could benefit with more shots from Lukas Meisner, Quinton Adlesh and now Castlin. Myles Stephens’ offense has disappeared over the past four Princeton games, but he should take advantage of favorable matchups tonight. Mitch Henderson loves to invert his offense and post up Stephens, which Columbia could not defend last year, and they actually grade out even worse in the post this year.
The Pick: Princeton -9.5
- Cornell games essentially boil down to whether Matt Morgan and Stone Gettings produce more than they allow defensively. Morgan is an elite scorer on a national level, but he allows an exceptionally poor 1.13 points per possession, per Synergy. Cornell struggles to defend in transition defense, which could spell trouble against a Penn team that grades out as the country’s fourth most efficient offense on the break.
The Pick: Pass
Other Quick Hitters
- If Penn State’s Josh Reaves doesn’t get academic clearance for tonight’s game vs Nebraska, I think the Huskers have a great shot at a road win. Per Hooplens, the Nittany Lions score 1.16 points per possession with Reaves, but just .96 without him. That’s as dramatic of a disparity as you’ll see.
The Pick: Nebraska if Reaves is ruled out
- Big game for Dayton and Anthony Grant personally, as the Flyers welcome his former employer, VCU. Schematically, Dayton poses serious challenges for VCU’s transition-heavy, attacking offense. First, Grant implemented a shifting zone that limits opponents to .91 points per possession. VCU, a horribly inefficient halfcourt offense, has been mediocre at best against zones. Also, and most importantly, Dayton plays elite transition defense, allowing just .88 points per possession.
The Pick: Dayton -3
Friday Top Picks:
Quinnipiac/Rider over 159
*all lines via Pinnacle at time of publication
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