Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 11/25/14
New feature starting today, and this will be on what I’ll call a mostly daily basis. I’ll be running through the previous night’s college basketball results, with the idea being to focus on games that might have had misleading scores. Looking at a final score will often not be a true representation of how the game got there. I have always found this information valuable, hopefully it will be of benefit to many college hoop bettors who read this space. Note that I said “mostly daily” as there might be some days where I just don’t get to the game breakdowns to make any pertinent comments, or if I decide I’m in the mood to go on a rant about something. Also note that I will still have the usual Wise Guy Wednesday report this week, but as it’s the final major regular season week of the college football season, this will be the last edition for this year.
Virginia Commonwealth played what might well have been its worst half of basketball since Shaka Smart arrived on the scene. The Rams lost the second half by a whopping 22 points in losing 74-53. Worth noting that VCU had only four assists in the entire game.
Freshman Melo Trimble had quite the night for Maryland as the Terrapins edged Arizona State 78-73. Trimble scored 31 in the win, and was 13/14 at the free throw line. As it turns out, the Sun Devils had just 14 FT attempts as a team.
Seton Hall led Illinois State 30-9, but the Redbirds clawed their way back and the final tally was just 84-80. Sterling Gibbs saved the day for the Pirates with a 40 point explosion that included a perfect 13/13 from the stripe.
Auburn was shorthanded against Tulsa, and ended up getting blown out 53-35. It had no impact on the result in terms of who won and lost, but the officiating in this game was absurd, as the officials basically made up their minds to call charging anytime anyone drove to the basket for either team. Auburn had no idea how to handle the Tulsa zone and Cinmeon Banks was their only effective player.
Oakland continues to struggle and the problem remains an inability to play any defense at all. The Grizzlies lost 88-79 in double OT to Western Carolina, and that’s despite attempting 18 more free throws than the Catamounts.
Indiana blew a double digit second half lead in a discouraging home loss to Eastern Washington. The visiting Eagles got almost all their production from three players as the Hoosiers seemed clueless how to stop the Big Sky invaders. A huge win for Eastern Washington, and the Indiana problems continue to mount.
Austin Peay might have gotten jobbed a bit at Indiana State. I only caught the audio feed on this one, but the Governors broadcast team was very upset with some of the calls. Considering how close this game was, the 37-26 FT attempt disparity favoring the Sycamores might mean the guys had a point.
Brown ended up getting blown out 89-68 at Illinois, but the Bears actually led this game by six in the second half. It hasn’t been against stellar opposition, but this Illinois entry is appearing to be far more explosive than last year’s edition.
3-0 college hoops night, and the customary shootout loser in the NHL. I can’t really beef about this one as the Flyers were completely outplayed for most of the 65 minutes against the Islanders. But it might be nice to actually get lucky with one of these at some point. Nevertheless, with the college basketball reads on target, it was a nice overall night.
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Pepperdine hung in for the full 40 at Iowa and got the cover without too much of a sweat, though there was one Hawkeyes run that made things dicey for a minute or two. I’ll go with another college underdog tonight.
11/25 04:00 PM CBB (517) HOFSTRA at (518) SOUTH FLORIDA
Take: (517) HOFSTRA +4
Hofstra is projected to be one of the most improved teams in the land this season. Joe Mihalich didn’t just say so long to Niagara when he took the job with the Pride, he also took a couple of star players with him. I think it speaks volumes that both Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley opted to sit out an entire season as they followed their coach to his new gig.
Green and Tanksley are off to good starts with Hofstra and the Pride, while not the favorite, are looking as though they’re going to be serious title contenders in the CAA this season. Hofstra will have some occasional issues on the glass as they’re not blessed with a great deal of height. But the Mihalich touch is already evident in several other aspects of their game, and the on court chemistry is strong according to onlookers.
South Florida is also looking as though it’s a program on the rise. Orlando Antigua is a rookie head coach, but he’s been sitting next to John Caliper for the last several years. That is almost certainly going to pay off when it comes to recruiting, and the on court results thus far have been pretty good as well. Chris Perry, wo enjoyed a solid freshman season for the Bulls, has taken what sure looks to be a substantial step forward, and he’s going to be a handful inside for any team that lines up against South Florida.
There’s already a common opponent for these two teams, as each took a road loss at North Carolina State. South Florida gave the Wolfpack a tougher battle, but that could actually work against them a bit here. That duel took place on Sunday, so it’s a fairly quick turnaround for USF. Hofstra also played on Sunday, but they were able to coast some against Wagner in a game that was pretty much done at halftime.
Hofstra was a scrappy bunch last season that earned a decent dividend for those who backed the Pride on the road. That task might be a bit tougher this time around, as the big lines won’t be nearly as plentiful, and I think it’s safe to say that the major improvement being projected for the Pride is not even remotely under the radar for college hoop junkies. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be a worthwhile play in the right spots.
I’m going to be interested to see if things get better at home for USF. The Bulls have been a miserable spread team at home lately, but with the arrival of Antigua there will hopefully be a boost in excitement. But, and I don’t mean this to sound insulting, Tampa is not exactly the most intense sports town on the planet, and USF really has troubles attracting crowds to its home games. It’s just not an imposing scenario for the guests, and until that changes I’ll likely continue to give the Bulls what amounts to a minimal home court edge.
I can see tonight’s game being tight all the way, and while the power ratings indicate the number is about where it should be, I feel as though there’s still a little value to be had with emerging Hofstra. I’ll go ahead and snare the available points with the Pride tonight.