The College Basketball Prime Time Previewer February 7, 2018


It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for our mid-week edition of the Prime Time Previewer. With some big time conference showdowns on deck, I’ll give you the basic betting breakdown for the biggest T.V. games, and if you want even more analysis as well as’s official play of the game, just follow the link at the end of each breakdown.

Virginia (22-1, 11-0) @ Florida State (17-6, 6-5)
7 pm ET ESPN3

Open: UVA – 3
Spread: UVA – 3
Consensus: UVA 76%

Situational Spots:

Virginia continued to plow through their schedule with their latest dominating performance on Saturday, making easy work of the Orangemen, in Syracuse, 59-44, and extending their winning streak to 13 games and their ACC record to 11-0. They will now hit the road for the second game of a two-game away stretch to take on a Florida State team that has floundered a bit in-conference.

The Seminoles started the year off with one of the easiest non-conference schedules in the country (333rd) and had an 11-1 record to show for it. Since entering ACC play, FSU has struggled on the road, losing 4 out of 6 games, but have gone 4-1 at home, with that one loss coming to Louisville, which they avenged on Saturday in Louisville with an, 80-76, win. In what could be a season-saving win for the Seminoles if they can knock off Virginia, Florida State should be motivated to the max, with quite possibly the best team in the country coming to town.

Keys to the Matchup:

The key matchup to consider here is how effective the fast-paced (41st), high-flying offense of Florida State can be against the Virginia defense (1st) that will look to slow the game down to their tempo (325th). Florida State is big (14th), with Christ Koumadje and Ike Obiagu both 7-footers, and could find some advantage there, as they look to capitalize on second chance opportunities with their effectiveness on the offensive glass (14th), and solid shooting percentage inside (44th). Rebounding is the one weakness of this Virginia defense (92nd), and if FSU can control the boards and create extra possessions they could find some success here. However, UVA will hold a major advantage in all other aspects on this side of the floor and specifically in turnovers (12th), an area that has been the biggest challenge for this FSU offense (91st). Overall, the Virginia D will be the best unit on the floor, but there are a few advantages for the Seminoles, where if they play a perfect game, can be exploited.

Virginia will hold a matchup edge on offense (33rd), over a Florida State defense (71st) that in spite of their height, has actually struggled on the defensive glass (265th), a sign that maximum effort might not always be there. As a positive for the Seminoles, rebounding on offense has been one of UVA’s primary weaknesses (225th), and their lack of presence in the paint, has led to mediocre inside shooting percentage (119th), which doesn’t fair well against an FSU D that has been very solid inside (35th). This could lead to Virginia having to rely on their shooting (68th), specifically from 3 (36th), and though FSU hasn’t been great defending the perimeter (83rd), they have been very good overall in effective FG% defense (33rd). Though Virginia’s offense overall may be better than the FSU defense, because of how well they take care of the ball and shoot it from 3, the FSU defense, like their offense may hold a few key matchup advantages that could result in the Seminoles giving Virginia all that they can handle.

Florida State is 14-6-1 ATS overall
Florida State is 10-4 ATS after a win
Florida State is 6-4-1 ATS in the ACC

Virginia is 16-3 ATS overall
Virginia is 8-2 ATS in the ACC
Virginia is 5-0 ATS as an away favorite

Official Pick

Ohio State (20-5, 11-1) @ Purdue (23-2, 12-0)
8:30 pm ET Big Ten Network

Open: Purdue – 9.5
Spread: Purdue – 9.5
Consensus: OSU 73%

Situational Spots:

With some early slip-ups to a few formidable foes out of conference (Zaga, Butler, Clemson, UNC), Ohio State didn’t come out of the gate as planned in Chris Holtmann’s first year at the helm. Since conference play has started, however, the Buckeyes have been on fire, losing only one Big-Ten game to Penn State, 82-79, at home. They have bounced back from that to win their last two, against Indiana and Illinois, to complete a four-game stetch at home. Now back on the road, it’s time for the Buckeyes to see where they really stand as far as Big Ten supremacy is concerned in this matchup at Purdue.

Since losing back to back games to Tennessee and Western Kentucky back in November, Purdue has reeled off 19 straight wins, going undefeated in the Big Ten, and looking like a legit National Championship contender. The Buckeyes may be their biggest test yet in conference, however, and after barely getting by Rutgers, 78-76, in Piscataway on Saturday, the Boilermakers will come home to do battle for the number one spot in the conference standings. Ohio State, not having to leave Columbus since Jan. 20th, may be the fresher team by a little, but we can count on both teams putting forth maximally motivated efforts.

Keys to the Matchup:

While very strong on both sides of the ball, Purdue’s offense (3rd) has been their strongest suit, as one of the better shooting teams in the nation (6th), they can light you up from beyond the arc (2nd). That’s not to say they can’t beat you in the paint either, with PF Vincent Edwards and 7’2’’ C Isaac Haas, and 7’4’’ C Matt Haarms coming off of the bench, Purdue has the height (50th) to beat you down low. This height may be key, against an Ohio State defense (17th) that is below average as far as height in concerned (185th).

The Buckeyes can defend the post (45th), however, and it’s really been their perimeter defense (126th) that has been the concern for the Ohio State defense, giving up nearly 37% of their points from 3 (31st). This obviously isn’t ideal against one of the better shooting teams in the nation, and whether or not OSU can defend the perimeter will be huge in this matchup. Either way, Purdue’s offense will still hold a significant matchup advantage over the Ohio State defense both inside and out.

On defense, Purdue (15th), should also hold quite an advantage in terms of matchup, for OSU’s offense (25th) looks inside to Keita Bates-Diop to get a majority of their points (46th) and Purdue has been excellent in defending the paint (7th). If this leads to the Buckeyes having to rely on 3-point shooting, at which they have struggled a bit (143rd), Ohio State could be in trouble, as Purdue has been solid at defending the perimeter as well (69th). Overall, Purdue should have some hidden matchup advantages against the Buckeyes, and these should be considered in determining whether or not the spread is accurately accounting for them.

OSU is 12-11 ATS overall
OSU is 9-3 ATS in the Big Ten
OSU is 9-9 ATS after a win

Purdue is 14-10 ATS overall
Purdue is 8-5 ATS as a home favorite
Purdue is 5-7 ATS in the Big Ten

Official Pick

Texas A&M (15-8, 4-6) @ Auburn (21-2, 9-1)
9:00 pm ET ESPN2

Open: Auburn – 6.5
Spread: Auburn – 7
Consensus: Auburn 62%

Situational Spots:

Auburn has come out of nowhere this year, from a 18-14 team last year under Bruce Pearl, to 21-2 and 9-1 in the SEC with a 2-game lead in the conference. Their schedule has been a bit soft (60th), however, especially out of conference (200th), which is something to keep in mind, but against lesser opponents they’ve won by margins they should have for the most part. After losing their 3rd game on the year to Temple, 88-74, Auburn went on a run, winning 14 straight, until slipping up at Alabama, 76-71, on Jan 17. Since then, they’ve bounced back winning 5 straight games in the SEC, and now will look to keep that momentum rolling for the second of two back-to-back home games against A&M.

The Aggies haven’t faired so well in SEC play, going 4-6, after losing their first 5 games in-conference. But they’ve played the 9th most difficult schedule overall, and have gone 15-8, with some high-quality losses along the way (Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Kansas) and some big wins (West Virginia, USC, Missouri). Now winners of 2-straight by a large margin at home, the Aggies have a bit of momentum on their side, and will look for that first big signature win in-conference against the class of the SEC.

Keys to the Matchup:

The key matchup in this one will be the vaunted Texas A&M defense (5th) against the high-powered offensive attack of Mustapha Heron, DeSean Murray, and the Auburn offense (10th). Auburn has been a team that has lived and died by the 3 for the most part, relying on 3-point shooting (32nd) for 35.6% of their overall points (76th). They have been adept at getting to the free-throw line as well (50th), where they shoot nearly 78%, which is good for 10th in the nation. Where they have struggled is in the paint (177th), where they only derive 42% of their points (337th), which is mostly due to them being one of the shorter teams in the country (302nd). And this is where A&M will find a huge matchup advantage as one of the tallest teams in the entire nation (6th). The Aggies, with 6’10’’ C Tyler Davis, 6’10’’ F Tonny Trocha-Morelos, and 6’9’’ SF DJ Hogg are excellent in defending the post (9th), but they are very good on the perimeter as well (21st), even better than Auburn is at their own game. As great as Auburn has been offensively this year, on paper, Texas A&M is far from being a good defensive matchup for the Tigers.

The offense of Texas A&M (89th), has been far from as impressive as their defense, and while they might have a slight advantage defensively, on offense they will be up against it. The Tiger defense (26th), though short as previously mentioned, has actually been quite good down low (33rd), giving up most of their points from 3 (116th) and from the free throw line (38th). Fouling has been their major downfall (275th), but in terms of this matchup with A&M, that shouldn’t be a concern, as the Aggies are just as bad at getting to the line (267th).

While decent inside (76th), the A&M offense has really struggled with shooting (152nd), especially from 3 (271st) and at the line (270th). This doesn’t bode well for them against an Auburn defense that can mitigate their strength inside (33rd) as the 5th best shot-blocking team in the nation, and overall, holds opponents to a respectable 47.8% effective field goal percentage (45th). What’s even more of a concern for A&M, however, is their turnover percentage (244th), and how many of their possessions result in steals (230th), because Auburn has excelled on both of these fronts (47th TO%, 58th Steal %).

While A&M may hold a decent height advantage, and a slight edge on the defensive side of the ball, Auburn’s defense should hold a major advantage over the Aggie offense, and thus, the overall matchup favors Auburn.

Auburn is 16-5 ATS overall
Auburn is 8-2 ATS as a home favorite
Auburn is 9-1 in conference games

A&M is 9-11 ATS overall
A&M is 6-6 ATS after a win
A&M is 4-6 in conference games

Official Pick