College Basketball Mid-Major Betting Report: The Intrigue of Marshall, Furman and Dayton
Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Ibi Watson.
Each week, we take a closer look at two or three mid-major teams.
This week, I chose a trio of squads that I have power rated almost identically that are all currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the NCAA Tournament picture.
However, I think each will make some noise down the stretch and potentially cause an upset or two if they can find their way into the Big Dance.
Links to Previous Mid-Major Betting Reports
If you’ve missed out on any of our previous mid-major coverage to date, click the links below to navigate to previous iterations of our Mid-Major Betting Report column.
- Richmond & Western Kentucky (Jan. 28)
- Saint Louis, Toledo & Colorado State (Jan. 26)
- Drake, Loyola-Chicago & Utah State (Jan. 19)
Marshall Thundering Herd
9-4 (3-3) • tied-6th in C-USA • 6-6 ATS
I loved this Marshall team coming into the season.
Under head coach Dan D’Antoni, it plays a very unique run-n-gun style. The Herd play with a ton of tempo and shoot a high frequency of 3-pointers.
They did struggle at times last year in this system, but that was somewhat expected with one of the youngest rosters in the nation.
Coming into this season, they ranked fifth overall in minutes continuity, per KenPom. That’s something I value more in this unique shortened season in which teams didn’t have as much preparation.
The Herd start three guards who can all handle the ball — led by two upperclassmen in Taevion Kinsey and Jarrod West. The third, Andrew Taylor, has played much more efficiently in his sophomore campaign.
MID-MAJOR MONDAY 6’5 Sophomore G Taevion Kinsey out of Marshall is a HIGH FLIER. The Columbus, Ohio native averaged 16.4 PPG 5.0 RPG 4.2 APG this past season while also being named to the All C-USA Second Team. SERIOUS NBA POTENTIAL 💯💯 @KinseyTaevion pic.twitter.com/Fvjeyajlku
— Frankie Vision (@Frankie_Vision) October 12, 2020
Marshall also boasts two 6-foot-9 senior role players in Jannson Williams and Mikel Beyers, who are each capable shooters. Williams has bounced back after a down junior year.
I also have liked what I’ve seen recently from freshmen Obinna Anochili-Killen and David Early. They should both continue to improve with more experience in the offense.
Not surprisingly, Marshall ranks in the 98th percentile in points per possession in transition, per Synergy. It’s deadly when it gets out in the open floor.
In contrast, the defense has actually struggled in transition. However, it has been elite in the half-court outside of opponent offensive rebounding. Marshall is not a physical team that will dominate the boards by any stretch.
For the season, Marshall has dropped four games — two against Western Kentucky, one against a very good Toledo team in overtime and the other to Louisiana Tech.
None of those are bad losses, and they were in each until the very end. But the Herd will now likely need to win their conference tournament to punch a ticket to the dance.
This is a team I’ll be looking to play on in the right spots down the stretch and invest in to win the C-USA tournament.
Marshall may need to figure out how to close against Western Kentucky if they meet for a third time. If so, this team could pull off an upset or two in the tournament given its excellent guards and unique style.
- Friday, Feb. 5 | at Old Dominion
- Saturday, Feb. 6 | at Old Dominion
- Friday, Feb. 12 | vs. Middle Tennessee State
- Saturday, Feb. 13 | vs. Middle Tennessee State
11-5 (5-2) • 4th in Southern • 3-7 ATS
I may be irrationally high on Furman, but I love its offense. Similar to Marshall, this is a very experienced team that possesses an abundance of continuity, ranking 15th nationally in that category.
When it comes to the Paladins, I’m primarily enamored with their offense.
They have a plethora of ball-handlers and shooters that run beautiful motion in a 4-out offense that’s designed to maximize efficiency with 3-point attempts (16th in that category) and easy looks at the rim (rank third in 2-point percentage).
Consecutive 3️⃣-Pointers for Clay Mounce! pic.twitter.com/iPTP2YaPZp
— Furman Basketball (@FurmanHoops) January 2, 2021
This is a team that choked away a late lead at Alabama in a 3-point loss and simply had horrible shooting luck in a close loss at Cincinnati.
Speaking of unfortunate shooting luck, the Paladins are only shooting 33% from beyond the arc in conference play while allowing opponents to shoot 38.8% from distance.
Those splits, which led directly to their two conference losses, should regress in their favor down the stretch.
I’ll be looking to ride Furman down the stretch, starting this weekend in a home clash with first-place Wofford, which knocked out Furman in the Southern Conference tournament last year.
I think the Paladins ultimately win their conference tourney this year and can certainly have the offense to pull off an upset or two in the NCAA Tournament — even if the defense and rebounding aren’t superb.
- Saturday, Feb. 6 | vs. Wofford
- Monday, Feb. 8 | vs. UNC Greensboro
- Wednesday, Feb. 10 | at UNC Greensboro
10-4 (6-3) • 4th in A-10 • 8-6 ATS
Unfortunately, we will never know what would’ve happened with Dayton in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
The Flyers were a bona-fide Final Four threat. However, after losing Obi Toppin and two other key senior contributors, the expectations were clearly not as high, and early struggles were to be expected this season.
Head coach Anthony Grant then had to deal with a number of injuries, which didn’t help Dayton’s development after a truncated preseason and condensed non-conference schedule.
As a result, Dayton had two bizarre losses over its first eight games: a two-point home loss to La Salle and an inexcusable one-point loss at lowly Fordham. The Flyers also lost by two at home to SMU at the buzzer.
So, while all three of those losses could’ve gone either way, it’s hard to see them ever being able to recover from those two horrid losses from a resume perspective — even with non-conference wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State.
That said, the Fordham loss seemed to be the bottom for this team. Dayton’s been much better since, starting with a win at Davidson that appeared to mark the beginning of the turnaround.
Its pick-and-roll heavy offense has been much more efficient over its past six games (5-1), and it finally has all of its pieces back sans Rodney Chatman. After having hand surgery in early January, Chatman was expected to miss six-to-eight weeks,
Dayton has two senior guards in Jalen Crutcher and Ibi Watson who can both shoot the lights out. As long as they don’t wear down from playing almost every minute, this offense seems to be trending in the right direction.
Oh, and I didn’t even mention uber-talented reclassified freshman Mustapha Amzil, who has looked like the real deal in his short time on campus.
Really impressive debut for Dayton freshman, Mustapha Amzil. Has only been w/ Dayton for a couple weeks(originally 2021 commit) but already showed great things. ++ touch for his size. Loves push shots/floaters, good shot versatility, PnR/DHO versatility. Fun offensive prospect. pic.twitter.com/WZPVMGSksI
— Ross Homan (@Ross_homan1) December 31, 2020
Defensively, the Flyers don’t force many turnovers, but their scheme effectively limits anything in the paint (26th in 2-point percentage defense). Overall, their man-to-man defense ranks in the 92nd percentile in the half-court, per Synergy. That will play.
It understandably took some time to work out the kinks after losing Toppin, two other seniors and dealing with roster instability early on, but this team finally looks like it is starting to figure things out, as evidenced by a road win at Saint Louis and an easy home win over Rhode Island in its past two games.
I’d expect it to get bettors to the window more times than not down the stretch.
The Flyers will also be an intriguing team from a futures perspective in the A-10 tournament. And if they somehow get into the dance, they wouldn’t be an easy out.
- Tuesday, Feb. 2 | at Duquesne
- Friday, Feb. 5 | vs. Richmond
- Tuesday, Feb. 9 | at UMass