Another week on the college basketball hardwood gets underway on Monday night. As usual, there are a few major conference games, but most of the day is made up of smaller conference action. It seems too easy to talk about Florida State vs. Duke, right? Same thing with Baylor vs. Texas. What’s the fun in that?!
Instead, let’s head to Boston, Massachusetts for the rematch between Colgate and Boston University. This game was mentioned in our situational spots article this week and keep in mind that you can hear about a lot of under-the-radar games and conferences each week on BangTheBook Radio.
Things are really heating up in the Patriot League and the two best teams in that conference square off tonight. BU is favored by a bucket with a total of 143.5 over at Bookmaker Sportsbook. Colgate won the first meeting at home, so the BU Terriers are out for revenge here and a piece of first place at Case Gym tonight.
BU trailed by as many as 12 in the second half of the first meeting, but did take the deficit down to as low as three points before Colgate put the game away en route to winning 79-70. Boston U. had a hangover effect in the following game with a loss at home to Navy in overtime, but the Midshipmen have a decent team this season. Since then, the Terriers have ripped off five wins in a row, including a convincing win at Bucknell.
Colgate’s two conference losses have both come against Lafayette. The Leopards won 71-67 at home and 80-78 at Colgate. For whatever reason, Colgate’s two worst defensive performances in conference play have come against Lafayette. Their third-worst? You guessed it. Against BU. This is an important game for Patriot League standings, as both teams have a good chance at running the table after this one.
The first game between these two featured 149 points in 64 possessions with only 16 free throw points. There were only 11 combined turnovers and 24 offensive rebounds. It will be interesting to see how the teams adjust for the second meeting.
Both Colgate and BU are much better on the offensive end. BU ranks 64th in the country in eFG% on offense and Colgate is 50th. Both teams take excellent care of the basketball, with Colgate 26th in TO% and Boston sits 39th. Boston is 22nd in the nation in 2P% and Colgate is 71st. There are two huge differences, though. Colgate is 65th in 3P% and 48th in FT%. BU is 221st in 3P% and 316th in FT%.
Is it possible that Colgate plays a little Hack-A-Max tonight? Boston star Max Mahoney is shooting 62% on two-point shots, but has made less than 58% of his free throws. Mahoney is the go-to scorer and the top rebounder for the Terriers. Would putting him on the line be a good strategy for Colgate, if they have the players to spare to foul trouble? There are some other players, like Walter Whyte, Jonas Harper, and Sukhmail Mathon that can score inside the arc, but Mahoney is easily the highest usage player for the Terriers and it may frustrate him to put him on the line and get him away from the rim.
That is something to keep in mind for this one. Mahoney only played 10 minutes in the first meeting, so Javante McCoy, Whyte, and Ethan Brittain-Watts had to really step up. Jack Hemphill even had 12 points in just 17 minutes. Since that game, Mahoney has scored in double figures in six straight games and has scored 15.6 points per contest for the season with nearly eight boards per night.
Having Mahoney could certainly change a lot about the game for Boston. They rank 247th in 3P Rate and took 29 of them in that game. With Mahoney over the last six games, they’ve topped out at 26. It should bring more efficiency back to the offense to have him for more than 10 minutes in this game and Colgate didn’t have to contend with him very much in the first meeting.
Colgate is a more balanced offensive bunch, but they also like their big man Rapolas Ivanauskas. The 6-foot-10 senior is only shooting 47% on two-point shots and has not been nearly as efficient as somebody like Mahoney, but he still has the highest usage rate on the team. It was senior leader Will Rayman that paced the Raiders attack with 21 points in the first game. He made all four of his threes and had 13 of the team’s 42 rebounds. The Raiders will need a similarly big effort from him in this one.
I just have to look at the difference that Mahoney makes here and take a look at Boston University. The Terriers were right there in the first meeting before Colgate pulled away late and that was without anything from Mahoney. He changes the complexion of the game and Colgate will have a lot more to worry about on the interior.
It is BU getting revenge for me.
Pick: Boston U -2