On this Valentine’s Day Wednesday, we hope that you’ve made your dinner reservations for early in the evening this year, so that you can make it home just in time to catch the Prime Time College Basketball that is in store. The lineup is solid for tonight’s midweek slate, and we’ll focus on breaking down the biggest TV games of the night, as we always do, for this Valentine’s Day edition of the CBB Prime Time Previewer.
Clemson (20-4, 9-3) @ Florida State (17-8, 6-7)
7 pm ET ESPN3
Open: FSU – 4.5
Spread: FSU – 4.5
Consensus: Clemson 70%
Since losing star Senior Forward Donte Grantham for the year on January 22nd, Clemson faltered a bit in their game following the injury, getting blown out 61-23 in Virginia. But since then, the Tigers have been flawless, winning 4 straight; one of these being a home win over North Carolina, who beat them a couple weeks prior, in Chapel Hill, with Grantham. Other than the losses to UVA and UNC, Clemson’s only other loss in the ACC was at North Carolina State, 78-77, and save for that loss, they haven’t lost since November 19th to Temple in their 5th game of the year. Granted their non-conference schedule wasn’t special (206th), but with wins over Ohio State, Florida, and South Carolina out of the conference, I wouldn’t call their resume unimpressive. Now riding a 6-game winning streak, and coming off a, 72-48, blowout of Pitt, Clemson is only 2 games back from Virginia for the lead in the ACC standings, and will head to Tallahassee well rested, having not played since last Thursday.
Florida State, on the other hand, is heading in the other direction as of late, losing back-to-back games: to Virginia, at home, 59-55, and to Notre Dame, in South Bend, 84-69. Since starting off the season 11-1, against one of the weaker non-conference schedules in the country (329th), the Seminoles has been very up-and-down in the ACC; with big wins over UNC, Louisville, Miami, and Syracuse, while coming up short to Notre Dame, Virginia, Boston College, Louisville, Duke, and Miami. They have only lost 2 games on the year at the Donald L. Tucker center (UVA and Louisville), however, and coming off a rather ugly loss to Notre Dame on Saturday, Florida State should be highly motivated to redeem themselves from that embarrassment and get a big win at home against a top-tier team in the ACC.
Keys to the Matchup:
The key matchup to consider here will be the fast-paced (42nd), tall (13th) and athletic, Florida State offense (19th) against the stingy Tiger D (14th). The Florida State offense has been balanced for the most part, with an equal point distribution inside and out, but have been more effective inside (55th) from a percentage standpoint. Inside, however, is where the Clemson D has thrived (18th), giving up a much larger percentage, relative to the rest of the country, from the perimeter (65th). I’m not sure the Seminoles will be able to exploit this, however, as Florida States primary weakness on offense, other than their horrendous percentage from the free throw line (262nd), is their 3-point shooting (116th). Therefore, Clemson should match up well here for the most part, save for the height disadvantage that could really play a factor for a Clemson team that, save for Elijah Thomas at 6’ 9’’, is undersized in the front court with Aamir Simms at 6’ 7’’ starting alongside Thomas. With Christ Koumadje at 7’ 4’’, and Ike Obiagu at 7’, Florida State could potentially exploit Clemson’s lack of height inside. These two aren’t significant scorers, though, and I’d still anticipate Clemson’s defense to hold to overall advantage here when it’s all said and done.
Statistically, Clemson’s offense (30th), would appear to hold the advantage over the Florida State defense (66th), but looking closely at the matchup, I think it’s nearly a toss-up. Clemson, has, more often than not, relied on three-point shooting (48th) to score the largest percentage of their points (106th). Florida State’s defense hasn’t been great on the perimeter (100th), but when you consider the Seminoles interior defense (32nd), and their shot percentage defense overall (36th), they could force Clemson to rely on the 3 even more than they would like to. Especially when you figure in the height advantage, how Clemson has struggled with getting shots blocked (223rd, and how efficient the Seminoles have been at blocking shots (53rd), the case can be made for FSU potentially forcing Clemson into a one-dimensional offensive attack. Therefore, though statistically the Tiger O rates higher than the FSU D, I’d call this matchup a wash.
Florida State is 14-8-1 ATS overall
Florida State is 10-5 ATS as a favorite
Florida State is 6-3 ATS as the home team
Clemson is 13-8 ATS overall
Clemson is 6-6 ATS in the ACC
Clemson is 2-5 ATS as an away team
Seton Hall (17-8, 6-6) @ Xavier (23-3, 11-2)
9:00 pm ET FS1
Open: Xavier – 5.5
Spread: Xavier – 5 *Reverse Line Movement*
Consensus: Xavier 85%
One of the hotter teams in the country right now, The Xavier Muskateers will look to extend their lead in the Big East as they play host to the slumping Seton Hall Pirates, in a rematch of their 73-64 win at Seton Hall on January 20th. Winners of eight straight games, the ball has been bouncing the Muskateers’ way lately, especially in their last three: winning games in OT over Georgetown at home and Butler on the road, while pulling off a 72-71 victory over Creighton on Saturday. One does have to wonder if a letdown is looming, but coming back home for tonight’s game, Xavier has a lead in the Big East to protect, and the ball has been bouncing the other way for Seton Hall lately.
The Pirates have now lost three straight in-conference, and after starting off 4-1 in the Big East, this latest losing streak has plummeted their stock to the middle of the pack in the conference standings. Seton Hall would love nothing more than to avenge their home loss to Xavier and find redemption on the road, but in giving up an average of 80 points PPG in these three latest losses, the defensive effort just hasn’t been there. I’m sure we can expect an uptick in effort tonight, though, in a revenge spot against the conference leader, and perhaps there may be a bit of value on the Pirates coming off of 3-straight losses, with their stock at a season low.
Keys to the Matchup:
In considering the play of the of the Seton Hall defense (55th) lately, the matchup with this fast-paced (39th) Xavier offensive attack (7th) will be key. Xavier, with 6’ 10’’ C Kerem Kanter, will look to attack the basket, first and foremost, where they are great percentage-wise (13th), and with guards Trevon Bluiett and JP Macura, they are also great at getting into the paint, drawing fouls (29th), and getting to the line, where they shoot 77% (15th). If the Seton Hall defense does excel at one thing, it is keeping teams off of the line (57th), which could certainly help their cause tonight, but they’ll need to step up their interior defense (108th) if they look to slow down Kanter and company inside. What is scary for the Seton Hall defense, is that in their first matchup, Kanter only played 9 minutes, scoring zero points, and they still lost by 9, unable to keep Xavier off of the free throw line (22 attempts). The Pirates will certainly need a better defensive effort tonight if they have any chance of keeping this game close.
The Seton Hall offense (32nd) will likely have to put up a big number to keep pace with Xavier and doing so is not out of the question with Seniors Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado, and Khadeen Carrington very capable scorers. They’ll look to score in the paint primarily, where they score most of their points (57th), and should have an advantage over the Xavier defense (59th), that gives up a fairly high shot percentage inside (48.6% 118th). Overall, though, where the Pirates really thrive is on the offensive glass (32nd), where they get those second chance opportunities with Delgado, but unfortunately for this matchup, rebounding in Xavier’s defensive specialty (17th), which could hamper some of the Pirates’ normal offensive production.
Though statistically, the Seton Hall offense may prove more efficient than the Xavier D, digging deep into the matchup, with Xavier’s proficiency on the glass, there isn’t much of a matchup advantage here, and overall, with Xavier’s offense likely to find success against the Pirate D in the paint, there may be a hidden matchup advantage for the Muskateers that isn’t fully represented in the spread.
Seton Hall is 11-14 ATS overall
Seton Hall is 5-7 ATS in the Big East
Seton Hall is 3-5 ATS on the road
Xavier is 18-8 ATS overall
Xavier is 10-5 ATS as a home favorite
Xavier is 8-5 ATS in the Big East
Kentucky (17-8, 6-6) @ Auburn (22-3, 10-2)
9:00 pm ET ESPN2
Open: Auburn – 8.5
Spread: Auburn – 8.5
Consensus: Kentucky 66%
If there is any team in the entire country that could really use a big win tonight, it’s the Kentucky Wildcats, losers of three straight games, and now a .500 team in the SEC, so far below normal program standards. On Saturday, Texas A&M was the latest team to hand Kentucky an L, putting up 85 points in a 85-74 win, and achieving their revenge for their loss to Kentucky earlier in the year. Now Kentucky will look to turn things around against Auburn in their first meeting of the year, but doing so, certainly won’t be easy against the outright leader in the SEC.
Auburn’s season has gone in the opposite direction than that of Kentucky’s, and unlike the Wildcats, the Tigers have greatly exceeded expectations. Like Kentucky, however, it was Texas A&M who handed Auburn their last loss, but this was the Tigers’ first one since January 17th, falling 81-80, at home, last Wednesday. Auburn, has since, bounced back with an impressive, 78-61, win at Georgia and now will come back home for one of their bigger tests of the year against Kentucky. Auburn, save for the loss to A&M, has been flawless at home, and with a Blue Blood coming into Auburn Arena, expect motivation to be at a high for both teams, for as much as Auburn would love to knock off Goliath at home, Kentucky is in desperation mode.
Keys to the Matchup:
The matchup to watch in this one will be the sharp-shooting Auburn offensive attack (6th), against the strength of this young Kentucky squad, which has been their defense (21st). Auburn, with Jared Harper, Bryce Brown, and Chuma Okeke all shooting above 40% from 3, attacks primarily from beyond the arc, where they are 30th in three-point percentage in the country and derive a significant percentage of their overall points (76th). They also thrive off getting to the basket with Mustapha Heron and DeSean Murray, drawing fouls and getting to the line (54th), where they shoot nearly 78% (8th). Where they are lacking is in height (298th), which limits their interior offense (153rd), and in this matchup, this could be significant, as Kentucky is one of the tallest teams in the nation (4th).
Not only is Kentucky tall, but they are one of the better perimeter defenses out there (3rd), which also doesn’t bode well for the Tigers here, because if Kentucky locks down the perimeter and they are forced to look for points inside, Kentucky’s height advantage will show itself. The height advantage, I believe, is critical here, because when you consider Auburn’s losses on the year, all three were to teams with a lot of length (A&M 6th in overall height, Bama 26th, Temple 27th).
Kentucky will use their length on offense (57th), as they normally do, with 6’ 9’’ Kevin Knox and 6’ 11’’ Nick Richards to attack inside, where they derive over 58% of their points. The Auburn defense (36th), has actually been solid inside (48th), however, in spite of their lack of size, but have struggled on the boards (181st). This lack of defensive rebounding prowess could hurt them against one of the better offensive rebounding teams in the country (14th), and second chance opportunities could be the difference that turns Kentucky’s offensive disadvantage into an advantage over the Auburn D. Kentucky is also great at getting to the free throw line (9th), which is another thing that could pose problems for the Tiger defense, that if it has one major weakness, it is putting teams on the line (247th). If Kentucky is getting second chance opportunities and hitting their free throws when they get to the line, which they have often failed to do (271st), then Kentucky definitely has a great chance at covering this number, and could be undervalued if you deeply consider the matchup.
Auburn is 17-6 ATS overall
Auburn is 8-3 ATS as a home favorite
Auburn is 10-2 in conference games
Kentucky is 10-15 ATS overall
Kentucky is 3-4 ATS as an away team
Kentucky is 3-9 ATS in conference games