I’m sure I’m not the only one who finds some irony in the fact that the DePaul Blue Demons, the only member of the Big East Conference that did not get invited to either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT, is the only team from that league that is still standing. Or that Dave Leitao, who is the guy who immediately preceded Tony Bennett as coach at the University of Virginia, could wins up being the champion of a national tournament before Bennett is.
But first his team must even up the best-of-three series against the South Florida Bulls that will crown the champion of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). It’s at 8 PM ET at the McGrath-Phillips Arena in Chicago. ESPNU will televise it live, and BetAnySports customers can place wagers on it as it is happening through Live Betting Ultra.
DePaul had averaged 96.3 points a game in its first three games in the tournament, but that was all at home, and they found themselves slowed down quite a bit in Tampa on Monday night. The Blue Demons did not fall victim to USF’s ability to create turnovers, as they had just ten on the evening. But they were not able to get the kind of shots they wanted, particularly inside the arc, where they were just 38% (their average was 54%). And now they are down one game with their 63-61 defeat. Certainly they have reason to believe that they can regain the shooting touch and perhaps even be able to impose their own pace on the Bulls, considering that they had done in the previous games.
South Florida came into Monday’s contest having taken almost half as many free throws as they had field goal attempts. They aren’t very good at the line, as we pointed out a couple of days ago, making just 64.4% (and they were just 9 of 17 in Game 1), but it operates to an extent on the same basis as teams that aren’t real accurate from beyond the arc but shoot an awful lot of triples. Sometimes you’re better off, from a percentage basis, in shooting free throws than making a field goal attempt. Did we explain that right?
In the college basketball betting odds that have been posted on Game 2 of the CBI Championship Series by the folks at BetAnySports, DePaul, the home team, is favored:
DePaul Blue Demons -6
South Florida Bulls +6
Over 147 points -110
Under 147 points -110
After the Game 1 victory, USF is now a -140 favorite to win the series, with DePaul at +120.
Interestingly enough, South Florida did not have to get to the line as they usually do, with a rather low free throw rate of 32.7% in first game. And they were hardly any good inside the arc, making 12 of 30 shots. They got no points at all out of seven-footer Michael Durr in his 27 minutes of action. What they DID do was hit shots from the outside; the Bulls have made ten triples or more only six times this season, and this was one of them, as with their 10-for-22 night, they may have had their best long-range outing of the year.
So you ask whether this is an aberration or not. It night just be, and then you have to wonder, if they can’t drain a lot of threes again, can they make up for it by getting to the line? Take note that 13 of the 16 top free throw rates for USF have taken place at home. So maybe this isn’t going to bring about optimum conditions for them. They are 4-6 straight-up as the visitor, but you should also keep in mind that they are 7-2-1 against the spread.
After 124 points were scored in the first game, the posted total here is 147 points, suggesting that somehow DePaul will find more accuracy in their shooting AND the ability to control more in the way of tempo. And that’s interesting, because you need to consider that the opponents in the Blue Demons’ three opponents in Chicago in this tournament – Central Michigan, Longwood and Coastal Carolina – had been perfectly willing to engage in an accelerated tempo with DePaul.
South Florida is obviously not going to do that, so expect that regardless of what kind of offensive night they are going to have, they are going to do their best to make this slow and deliberate, as they did in games against Utah Valley and Loyola Marymount. They may brick from the field, but they will try real hard to frustrate DePaul, and that is why another under play might be very much in order.
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