Our winning ways continued last night as we picked up another win, our sixth win in eight bets this week. Last night we backed the USC Trojans laying -1.5-points in their game with the Harvard Crimson. I felt that USC was going to be far more physical at every spot on the floor and that despite the Crimson having an elite scorer in Bryce Aiken, I didn’t feel like that would be enough to overcome the fact that the Trojans were going to get a lot of easy buckets with the big bodies.
And in the end, that is exactly what happened. Onyeka Okongwu, the star freshman for the Trojans, had a huge first half, scoring twenty-one points, almost all of which came in the paint on dunks. He ended his the day with twenty-seven points on 12-14 shooting from the field. The Trojans dominated the boards, outrebounding the Crimson 42-28, including thirteen offense rebounds.
They used that physicality to run out to a big first-half lead and coasted to an easy double-digit win, 77-62, easily covering the spread and cashing our ticket. The win was a nice one for USC and should go a long way into getting the Trojans into the NCAA tournament. This team has a bunch of talent, if they can play together, this team could threatened for a PAC-12 title.
The loss was a tough one for Harvard, and the Crimson will need to find a way to notch a couple of non-conference wins if they want a shot at an at-large bid this year. They were left out of the Big Dance last season after coming up short in the finals of the Ivy League tournament for a lack of non-conference wins, and that is playing out again this season. For today’s pick, we will head to South Florida where the Bulls will host Furman.
- Furman Paladins at South Florida Bulls
- 4:00 PM PST
- Yuengling Center, Tampa
The Furman Paladins hope to keep their hot start alive tonight as they head to South Florida for a non-conference game with the Bulls. The Paladins have a 7-1 record, with the lone loss coming to a strong Alabama team. Furman is expected to compete to win an absolutely loaded SoCon conference this season.
For the Bulls, they have gotten off to a slow start, as they are just 3-4 and have lost two straight games. The Bulls have struggled at home as they are just 2-2 at the Yuengling Center. Coming into this season, the Bulls were hoping to compete to finish in the top half of the American this year, but they will need to find a way to turn things around soon if they want to be considered as even a bubble team.
I think this Furman Paladins team is a legit NCAA tournament-level team. While Eastern Tennessee State and UNC Greensboro are the favorites to win the SoCon, I think this Furman team has the firepower to beat any team in the country. They can score the basketball from everywhere, and they have the star power in Jordan Lyons to upset anybody.
Lyons found himself on the national radar last year when he made fifteen three-pointers in one game. This season, he leads one of four players scoring in double-digits for the Paladins. And he hasn’t even found his shooting stroke yet this season, as he is shooting a career low 30.2% from three. Lyons is shooting eight three-pointers a game, and if he gets hot, Furman can beat anybody in the nation.
South Florida Bulls
The Bulls have not lived up to their lofty pre-season expectations just yet. They bring back basically everything from last season, and they have plenty of talent, but that just hasn’t translated to wins. The Bulls are one of the worst teams in the country on offense. They score just 61-points a game on just 40.6% shooting from the field. They are awful from the line at 57.8%, they don’t pass the ball, and they can’t rebound.
It is just hard to say anything nice about this team right now. The play decent on defense, but that is just about the only redeeming quality they have at the moment. Their best player is David Collins, but even he has disappeared at times this season. In their home court loss to IUPUI, he had three points on 1-6 shooting. They will need a much better performance out of him tonight if they don’t want to suffer yet another home court defeat.
Who Do I Like?
Furman is the far superior team in this matchup. Coming into the season, these team’s ranked out fairly similarly. Both were picked to finish in the top half of their leagues, and both seemed like teams that could make a run to the NCAA tournament if things broke their way. But things have just been downright ugly for South Florida, while the Paladins have looked great, especially on offense.
When you look at the analytics, this is a major mismatch, as the Paladins are ranked #69 per kenpom with the 55th best offense in the nation. For the Bulls, they are ranked all the way down at #145, with their offense coming in at an abysmal #238.
This line opened up at Furman -3-points, and that is where I got it last night. The rest of the sharps jumped on the Furman bandwagon with me and pushed the number to where it stands now at Furman -4. But I still see plenty of value in backing the Paladins, even with the tougher number.
The only thing keeping this number close is the fact that this game is being played on the Bulls home court. Home court advantage means more in college basketball than any other sport, so that is not something to be taken lightly. But the Bulls have not done a very good job at all at protecting that floor as they have early home-court losses to IUPUI and Boston College. Neither of those teams has the talent that Furman has right now.
I don’t see any way to not like the Paladins in this game. The Bulls can’t score, and Furman has one of the best offenses in the country. If Furman gets hot, they could blow this one completely out. Home teams rarely get destroyed in college basketball, but this feels like a blowout.
So, I’ll back the Paladins laying just a little bit of wood tonight on the road, in a game that just might get out of hand. Give me the Furman Paladins laying -4-points tonight from South Florida!