Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mid-Week Match-up Preview: January 24-26

The conference tried its best last week to separate between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' then Virginia just had to go and ruin it. Herb Sendek thinks Tony Bennett coaches a boring style of play.

Duke & UNC remain locks for top 3 seeds barring some epic collapses. Florida State has played its way into the NCAA Tournament and just needs to avoid several WTF losses. Virginia still has a shiny W-L record but has no good wins to speak of - they are still in but I think you have to be worried about them blowing things. Two more bad losses and no more good wins and they don't have much of a resume - they'll basically be leaning on 'hey we won a lot of non-conference games against bad teams' as their case. And finally there's NC State, which probably has a tournament resume today but can't afford any bad losses in its final 11 games. The Miami win was big and if they escape this week (@UNC, UVA) going 1-1 then that solidifies their case, an 0-2 week puts them back on the outside looking in.

I now sit at 17-10-1 against the spread. This is what happens when you give up gambling folks, you start picking games well.

Miami at Georgia Tech
Pomeroy: GT -1, 55% chance of winning
Miami should start three guards - Shane Larkin needs to play 30 minutes a game to me. He works better in their new system than either Grant or Scott. That's weird to say because those two were supposed to be two of the leagues best guards this season, but Larkin seems to be outplaying both of them on a per-minute basis.

The Hurricanes have far more talent than GT, even though they haven't utilized it very well so far. GT doesn't run so Reggie Johnson might be able to play more minutes than he did against NC State. I like the Hurricanes, but much like Vegas I'm not really convinced.

My Prediction: Miami 70, GT 65

Duke at Maryland
Pomeroy: Duke -13, 85% chance of winning
Duke has never had a defensive efficiency rating outside of the top 20, at least not since Pomeroy started tracking the numbers back in 2003. Today their defensive efficiency sits at 89, which gives them about the sixth best defense in the league. Virginia Tech is a better defensive team. That's scary.

The Blue Devils have a serious defensive problem, and only a highly efficient offense is saving them. Maryland, on the flip side, only has one player that you have to worry about. I don't think there's any way Duke loses this game, but the Devils haven't blow out anyone on the road yet and I don't expect that to start in front of Maryland's hate-fueled crowd.

My Prediction: Duke 85, Maryland 75

Florida State at Wake Forest
Pomeroy: Florida State -11, 85% chance of winning
I'm just incapable of picking Wake after watching them play NC State. I know they have two ACC wins and all, but I can't do it. This has all the markings of a huge letdown performance by the Noles but their front court is approximately 2000 times better than Wake's so I can't pick against them. I just can't. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not confident about this game at all.

My Prediction: Florida State 75, Wake 60

Virginia Tech vs BYU
Maryland failed to pick up a good OOC win on the road at Temple. This would be a big momentum win for the Hokies after beating their rivals on the road. It's another one of those 'this would be nice to win' from a league perspective as well.

Boston College at Virginia
Pomeroy: Virginia -20, 98% chance of winning
I'll be very curious to see where Vegas sticks this line. Pomeroy has it by 20 and that seems insanely high but usually his prediction is within two points of the line. If its over 15, I'm taking the points. I know Virginia eviscerated Georgia Tech on the road last week, but anytime you get the Cavaliers as more than six point favorites you have to take it. You just have to. Their style dictates that they won't win a lot of games by 20.

Oh and as for the game itself, c'mon. It's Boston College.

My Prediction: Virginia 67, BC 54

NC State at UNC
Pomeroy: UNC -15, 87% chance of winning
I think I fall in with the majority of State fans who think that NC State is capable of hanging with the Tar Heels but not good enough to beat them in the Dean Dome after they've had a week off to prepare for the game. You need to do a lot of things right and UNC needs to do a lot of things wrong to win this game. Henson is such a game-changer on the inside that it really takes away from what NC State likes to do - go at the rim and score inside the arc. UNC is going to try to make them a 3-point shooting team where Wood is not the guy taking the 3s. I think Gottfried is a great offensive mind, and will find a way to score, but I'm not sure they can match UNC basket for basket. If both teams shoot well this is going to be a highly entertaining game that's played into the 80s. There are no moral victories, but holding your own against the Heels in Chapel Hill would be a good step forward for this team after the last four years.

My Prediction: UNC 85, NC State 75

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