Merry Christmas everyone! After a short break for the holidays, I am right back at it, finding value for you to bet on for college hoops. Its been an exciting couple of days, even with the limited action, as the nation’s top team, the Kansas Jayhawks, tasted defeated for the first time this season, and a new team, the Duke Blue Devils, have ascended to the top spot in both polls. Both Buffalo and Furman also dropped their first games of the season this week as well, leaving the total unbeaten teams in division one at just five. For today’s pick I will breakdown the game between the Indiana State Sycamores and the TCU Horned Frogs.
The Indiana State Sycamores get a rare chance for revenge out of conference as they are looking to avenge their loss from last week against the Horned Frogs of TCU tonight in the finals of the Diamond Head Championship in Hawaii. The Horned Frogs hosted the Sycamores in Fort Worth last week and easily handled them, 90-70. Indiana State is hoping for a much more competitive contest tonight in Hawaii. The Horned Frogs are -12-point favorites. The game total over-under is set at 147 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:00 PM PST from the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
Pop quiz. Which team has the highest shooting percentage from three in the country? Did you guess the Indiana State Sycamores? The Sycamores pride themselves shooting from deep and lead the nation as a team with an over 45% three-point shooting percentage. When they went to Forth Worth and played the Horned Frogs, they shot just 3-16 from the land of three. The loss to TCU was their only game of the season where they struggled shooting the ball from behind the arc, and their ability to convert three pointers is the key to tonight’s game.
Indiana State is led by two sharp shooting guards in the form of Tyreke Key and Jordan Barnes. Key is shooting a completely absurd 62.5% from three-point land, while Barnes is shooting almost 51%. Against TCU last week they were just a combined 2-6 from deep. If the Sycamores have any shot to steal this game from a red-hot TCU team, they are going to need to get big production out of Key and Barnes, who are averaging seventeen and twenty-one points a game respectively.
The Horned Frogs have one bad loss on their resume, a loss to Lipscomb. But they have a perfect record besides that and have won seven straight games. TCU has used a balanced attack where they take good care of the ball, pass it well, and shoot efficiently. They are number four in the country in assists to turnover ratio. All five of the TCU starters are averaging double-digits scoring.
When these teams matched up in Fort Worth last week, the key to the Horned Frogs win was their ability to play defense. As I mentioned above, they held the Sycamores to an abysmal shooting night, and forced twenty turnovers. And that wasn’t a fluky performance, as the Horned Frogs are ranked 23rd in defensive efficiency on kenpom. The question is, will they be able to recreate that masterful performance again away from home on a neutral floor?
Shooters shoot. And this Indiana State team has shown that they can shoot the rock. Yes, they did get shutdown in Fort Worth, but now that they are on a neutral floor, I have a feeling that they are going to be able to find their stroke. Throw in the fact that they have added Christian Williams to the rotation, and I think this game plays out differently tonight than it did last week. Williams was a transfer from Iowa and made his first ever start for Indiana State in the loss to TCU, but now that he has been with the team for a couple of games, I expect even more out of him.
I think TCU is the better team in this game. And I think they win the game. But I feel like this number is just too high. When you are dealing with a team that shoots the ball from three this well, it is only a matter of time before they break out of a slump and get hot. And in a situation like tonight, where they are getting a dozen points, they won’t need to be hot for too long to cover the number. They hit just three three-pointers against TCU last week, I expect that number to go way up tonight.
I see a closely contested game where the Frogs have slightly less success guarding the perimeter than they did the last time these teams matched up, and thus, a closer game. So, I will back the Indiana State Sycamores and snatch up the points in this one. Give me the Indiana State Sycamore and the +12-points tonight from the Diamond Head Classic finals in Hawaii!