It’s the last College Basketball Super Saturday in February, and with the Big Dance looming on the horizon, the Primetime matchups mostly consist of Tournament-bound teams jockeying for positioning.
For the games previewed on Tuesday and Wednesday, we had two matchups such as these, and went 2-0; with Maryland coming through as a two-point dog on the road in Iowa with the, 66-65, win, and North Carolina pulling off the huge upset @ Duke, winning, 88-72, as a nine-point dog. The UNC win may have been just a bit fortunate with Zion going down early, but a W nonetheless.
Today’s slate features four teams who have all but practically punched their tickets to March: as #14 Texas Tech Red Raiders look for revenge at home vs. the #12 Jayhawks of Kansas, and the #8 North Carolina Tar Heels, look to avoid the letdown off their big win, vs. the #16 Florida State Seminoles.
A Super Saturday indeed, for the big-game bettor; and once again, for those CBB fans who like to make things a little more interesting, welcome to the Primetime Previewer.
16 Florida State (21-5, 9-4) @ 8 North Carolina (21-5, 11-2)
3:45 pm ET CBS
Open: UNC – 7.5
Spread: UNC – 7
Consensus: FSU 67%
Yes, the Tar Heels were fortunate that the best player in the country went down early in their win over Duke, but the Tar Heels have averaged over 90 points per game in their last five and have won nine out of their last 10 games.
The key here is whether UNC can avoid the letdown off their biggest win of the year, as they look to claim the outright lead in the ACC and the number one seed in the ACC Tournament.
Florida State is a few games back in the race for the ACC regular season title, but after their 1-4 start in conference, the Seminoles have ripped off nine straight wins and showed no sign of slowing down Tuesday, with a, 77-64, win over Clemson.
With an extra day to rest and prepare, FSU will get UNC off their biggest win of the year, but will be playing in its third straight game on the road tonight in Chapel Hill.
Keys to the Matchup:
The best unit on the floor tonight will be the UNC offense (7th); which features a senior-laden attack – with Seniors: SG Kenny Williams, SF Cameron Johnson (22nd 3P% NCAA), and C Luke Maye (43rd Defensive Rebounding) – complimenting Freshman standout PG Coby White (146th Assist Rate).
UNC is a long team (18th) that will look to attack the basket (88th 2P Dist.) and look for second chance opportunities as one of the better teams on the offensive glass in the nation (25th) – as the Tar Heels usually are under Roy Williams. Carolina unexpectedly shoots a better percentage from three (41st) – as ranking in NCAA – than they do inside (79th), but don’t rely heavily on the three (221st), with only one player, in Cameron Johnson, that shoots it over 40%.
The Florida State defense (17th) can definitely matchup with the length of Carolina (13th), and should be able to contain the attack inside, being a defense that only allows 45% of their points inside the arc (300th) – holding teams to a 46% (35th). The real question here though, is whether the Noles can keep Carolina off the offensive boards, as this being one key area where they have struggled (121st), though they are still above average.
If Carolina looks to the perimeter more, they could find some success against Florida State (138th), but this isn’t something the Tar Heels have done regularly. Overall, I don’t really see a hidden edge for either team, because while Florida State can matchup inside, where Carolina usually likes to attack, UNC will have an advantage from three if they so chose to attack the perimeter. Florida State is long enough to negate Carolina’s edge on the offensive glass as well, and the Noles are still above average on the defensive glass.
The Florida State offense (25th), led by Sophomore C Mfiondu Kabengele (86th Offensive Rebounding), are very similar to Carolina, as a team that is long and looks to attack inside, and thrives off of second chance opportunities (30th). I wouldn’t expect them to succeed as they normally would against the UNC D (13th), which is relatively even better on the defensive glass (19th) and just as long.
The Tar Heel defense is one that is more prone to give up points on the perimeter (89th), allowing 33% from three (104th); and this is where they are a bad matchup for the Noles. FSU only shoots just below 34% as a team (200th), and rarely relies on three pointers to score (249th).
North Carolina may have a matchup edge slightly under-considered in the number, as a team that excels at stopping the Florida State does, can matchup with their length, and statistically is better on defense in every category in which the Noles excel.
Florida State is 4-4 ATS on the road
Florida State is 7-3 ATS in their last 10
UNC is 6-6-2 ATS at home
UNC is 7-3 ATS in their last 10
Thus far, early in the AM on Saturday, Florida State is the early overnight/morning action and the number has by dropping a half-point across the board. Matchbook is charging -113 on the FSU bet, Pinnacle is at -109, and Bovada is at a standard -110. I don’t really see any of this as clear indication of a sharp lean in the market as of yet.
Lean: UNC – 7 -110
Oddsmakers already shaded this number to the FSU side at open, and that hasn’t stopped early money from driving it down even further. The only explanation would be an anticipation of the letdown spot for UNC, but the matchup is just simply not ideal for the Noles.
UNC’s biggest defensive liability is their perimeter D, which FSU is not built to exploit; and offense, Carolina should find some success on the offensive glass and will hopefully game-plan to create more three-point opportunities – where they will have an edge on offense.
Also, consider that this will be Florida State’s third road game in a row. The excessive travel and energy spent on the road could help to balance out FSU’s situational edge gained from Carolina coming off such a big win.
12 Kansas (20-6, 9-4) @ 14 Texas Tech (21-5, 9-4)
8 pm ET ESPN
Open: TTU – 5
Spread: TTU – 5.5
Consensus: KU 62%
It has been a season of serious roster concerns for the Jayhawks, who after already losing star C Udoka Azubuike for the year early on, have had starting Senior SF Lagerald Vick miss the last three games for personal reasons, and Sophomore SF off the bench, Marcus Garrett, miss the last five with an injury.
Despite it all, the Jayhawks have won three in a row; most recently, making easy work of WVU (128th), at home, on Saturday.
Now with an entire week off from that game vs. WVU, Kansas will have to hit the road in a rematch with Texas Tech, who they beat, 79-63, at home, back on Feb. 2nd.
Texas Tech has won all four games since that loss to Kansas, with three of these wins being by over 25 points (WVU, @ Oky State (98th), Baylor (32nd)).
The Red Raiders will have a full week off as well since their recent, 86-61, win over Baylor, and with revenge on their minds, will look to make it five wins in a row with a vulnerable Kansas team coming to town.
Keys to the Matchup:
In the first matchup, in Lawrence, it was really Texas Tech’s three-point percentage (21%), which was 13% below their season average (114th) vs. Kansas’s (48%) – 12% above their average – that told the story. All other stats were relatively even: with Tech out-rebounding Kansas by three, TTU getting up five more shot-attempts, while also generating three more free-throw attempts.
Therefore, if only both teams shot their season long 3P%, Texas Tech would’ve likely won this game, in Kansas, but three-pointers don’t usually fall as easily on the road as they do at home.
The question for the rematch is whether we can expect things to sway back towards the mean – as far as three-point shooting is concerned – considering all other stats were equal, if not slightly in favor of Texas Tech. Percentage-wise, the stats would predict Kansas shooting around 32% and shooting around 34%, and that doesn’t take into consideration that this game will be played in Lubbock.
Considering the stats in the first game, the Lagerald Vick situation, and how anamolous the three-point percentages were in the first game, Tech may be a bit under appreciated here from a matchup perspective.
Kansas is 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games
Kansas is 1-6-1 ATS on the road
Texas Tech is 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games
Texas Tech is 5-3-1 ATS at home
The bet consensus has been strongly in favor of the Jayhawks, as of mid-morning Saturday, and yet, the number has been bet up a half-point in spite of it – likely indication of some sharp money on Tech. Many shops have remained at five, and of those at five, most are -110, save for Pinnacle (reducing Kansas Side) and Matchbook (juicing Kansas side). The sharpest books seem a bit split here on their opinion.
Pick: Texas Tech – 5
Texas Tech could’ve easily won that game in Kansas, had it not been for an abysmal performance from three-point range, and for Kansas getting hot from three. Now Texas Tech will be extra motivated to the avenge the loss, and Kansas will be short one of the Senior starters from the first matchup, Lagerald Vick. Kansas has been highly overrated on the road all year, going 1-6 ATS, and Tech has been a solid 5-3-1 ATS at home. The number is already one-point below the KenPom prediction, which is already a bit low, considering Lagerald Vick and how his absence leaves the season long statistics less accurate.