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PB: Tourney Thursday - The Game Inside the Game

Thread Starter PB: Tourney Thursday - The Game Inside the Game
David Malinsky
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Point Blank – March 16, 2017

Tourney Thursday – The Game Inside the Game…

One of the flows that made the Weekend Edition a lot of fun this season was using the blueprint of “The Game Inside the Game”, going beyond power ratings to get to the heart of some of the key team vs. team matchups. I believe that is a good way to handle to the tourneys as well, so let’s get started with some of the intrigue from the Thursday board (note that almost all numbers being referred to will be the Ken Pomeroy efficiency stats, which I believe are the best for these purposes)…

Item: Virginia Tech’s 3-point shooting vs. Wisconsin’s defense

One of the things that became quickly apparent in the marketplace this week is that many of the committee seedings were being ignored, especially in the instance of Minnesota getting a #5 and Wisconsin a #8, despite the Badgers finishing higher in the Big 10 regular season, conference tournament, and winning both times head to head. I even pondered in a media appearance this week if that was an “Oscar’s Moment”, where they might have legitimately misplaced the teams in their spots, because if the Badgers got the Golden Gophers seed, and vice-versa, there would not have been an eyebrow raised.

I bring that up because Wisconsin laying -5.5 is higher than we usually see for a #8 vs. a #9, but since Wiscy really wasn’t a #8, we see this range. But there is also something else we see – an underdog that brings an intriguing matchup advantage as we break down the numbers.

Virginia Tech had a marvelous offensive season, and one of the keys was to knock down shots from all over the place – the Hokies were #9 in the nation in 3-point% shooting, and instead of the offense losing traction with Chris Clarke went down with an injury, it did not skip a beat. They went on to beat Virginia in OT the game Clarke was hurt, rallying from down 14 at halftime, and then went 5-3 SU and 6-1-1 ATS the rest of the way.

The Hokies spread the floor so well because they have five volume shooters from long range, and they are all good –

Ahmed Hill                59-157           37.6%

Justin Bibbs              65-153           42.5%

Seth Allen                 51-113           45.1%

Ty Outlaw                 53-110           48.2%

Justin Robinson        39-107           38.4%

That is some rather nifty marksmanship to have on the same team. Why such a fascination for this matchup? That sound Wisconsin defense, one that rated #8 in efficiency this season, was #305 in the nation at defending 3-point shots.

Now before you get too excited about that there are two caveats. First is that the Badgers are the much more experienced team, and better set to handle tourney pressure. And there is also that matter of tempo – the Hokies were at their offensive best when pushing the pace, and getting those 3-point looks in the open court, players stepping forward into their shots. Wiscy (#333 tempo) will make it a grinder, meaning some of those shots will come in the half-court, with less open space. Tech has to be able to handle the slower pace, but then again, those teams knocking down triples all season vs. the Badgers were doing just that (if you wonder how Wisconsin could be so bad at guard the arc, yet to good on the overall defensive numbers, it was because of a #8 in the land at guard 2-point shots).

But it doesn’t end there. One of the difficulties many coaches have noted over time is finding shots against the fundamental soundness of that Wisconsin defense, especially on the first look. But this isn’t the first look for Buzz Williams, who went up against the Badgers six times while the head coach at Marquette.

  

The Wiscy systems haven’t changed all that much from Bo Ryan to Greg Gard, who was the #1 assistant in the years Williams was at Marquette.

Item: On power-rating Xavier (vs. Maryland), and why I think the committee over-valued the Big East

This isn’t necessarily a matchup issue, but it is one that matters not just in the perception of this game, but also of how fellow Big East members are rated. We do know that Villanova is good, which has been proven outside of the league over the past couple of seasons. But there are real questions about the others, and while USC over Providence took a lot of work to get home, the Trojans got there, not so much because their play being brilliant in the rally as the Friars not being quite good enough to sustain for 40 minutes.

Xavier had Final Four potential entering this season – enough experience, talent and balance to get a #12 from the Blue Ribbon folks. I was all set to make D’Artagnan references after Myles Davis returned, after Edmond Sumner/Trevon Blueitt/J.P. Macura had literally become the Three Muskeeters in his absence. But Davis never really got involved in his short stint, and then Sumner was lost for the season back on January 29 vs. St. John’s.

  

To their credit the Musketeers played with a lot of heart in the first two games without him, gutting out wins of 72-70 vs. Seton Hall and 82-80 at Creighton (I’ll be back tomorrow to make a similar point about Maurice Watson of the Blue Jays). But then the wheels came off, a 4-7 closing stretch in which three of the wins came over lowly DePaul, and they lost contact in several of the losses.

This brings up a key component to the tourney – while those of us that do this to build a portfolio at the betting windows make significant adjustments for injuries, such sources as Ken Pomeroy and Jeff Sagarin do not, and of course the national NCAA statistics are all “full team/full season”. That means much of what the committee was looking at was stale, like the fact the KenPom rates the Big East as the #3 conference in the nation. Where they anywhere near that at the end of the season? No. Yet that supposed conference strength was enough that every team that played .500 or better in the league, seven of them in all, made the Big Dance. Some mediocre squads got the benefit of picking up late-season wins over Xavier and Creighton that don’t mean what the raw numbers make them appear to.

How much of the Xavier appearance in this field is based on the luck of the draw, three games vs. DePaul being played while Sumner was out? It is a fascinating case study in the adjustment of power ratings. I do not have the current Musketeers graded out as a tourney-worthy team, as was the case with Providence last night. I just wish to hell they had drawn someone other than Maryland in the first round (though the Terrapins do rate a small play at -1, should that appear).

Item: When the underdog wants to speed up the favorite - NC-Wilmington/Virginia and Winthrop/Butler

One of the matchup components often seen in the first round each season are underdogs with lesser talent that also play a slower pace than the favorite. Naturally those dogs need to be able to win the battle of tempo, slowing the game down as much as possible, in order to compete. When you have the lesser talent, that is not easy.

The Thursday board brings us something different on that front, a pair of games in which it is the underdog that has been accustomed to playing much faster than the favorite. As hard as it is for the team with lesser talent to slow down a superior opponent, is it even tougher when the challenge is to speed them up? Let’s focus on two key aspects of these matchups, total pace, and the SPS (Seconds Per Shot) of the underdog’s offense into that of the favorite –

                     Pace   SPS O vs. D

UNCW           72         59

Virginia          351       333

Since there are 351 teams being tracked, you know exactly where the Cavaliers rate in terms of others in overall pace.

For Wilmington it was a fast-paced ride through the Colonial Athletic Association, with three starters back from the mix that led into the second half vs. Duke in the first round last March before succumbing 93-85 as +10. But the Seahawks won’t get that kind of ride today. Can they handle being forced to not only play at a slower pace, but to attack the #1 defense in the nation? It is something they did not have to do all that often during the regular season, and even in the first two rounds of the conference tourney they rang up 91 and 105. It is going to be a test of the composure from a team that has only been an underdog twice this season, splitting road games vs. Clemson and St. Bonaventure, neither of those challenges involving tempo.

And then there is my overall notion of wanting to be in play against the Big East as part of the next one -

                   Pace   SPS O vs. D

Winthrop       48         36

Butler           295       297

Butler wasn’t anything all that special down the stretch, going 7-5 SU and 5-7 ATS over the last dozen games, two wins over DePaul in that mix, one of them going to overtime. But there was that high-profile 74-66 win at Villanova mixed in, which is something the Bulldogs were able to pull based on style – while Jay Wright’s team plays with a fundamental soundness and toughness that unnerves many opponents over the course of 40 minutes, that is simply Butler basketball, with slightly better players. The Bulldogs got gritty with the Wildcats in each meeting this season, and worked hard enough to pull them off.

I thought Butler looked a little tired down the stretch, falling 70-64 as -8.5 at home vs. Seton Hall, and then 62-57 as -6 vs. Xavier in the Big East opening round. But does that early exit from the conference tourney alter that, this now being only the third game for the Bulldogs since February 26?

Winthrop comes in having scored less than 72 points only once time since before Christmas, and the Eagles have also only played one game away from home over the past full month, a 93-56 rout of Presbyterian. I would like to be able to use them into the anti-Big East notions, and I will bite off a small piece of +11.5, though still holding out for a 12 – one of the things that can indirectly help here is that the Butler pace can keep the underdog in the game, the Bulldogs style being to simply grind away. But there is a concern about the tempo clash that will limit the amount of the investment – the fear of the underdog getting frustrated when forced to play much more slowly than they have been accustomed to is at hand.

I’ll be back in the Friday edition with some more “Game Inside the Game” notions, now let the fun begin…

The complete Point Blank Archive

@PregamePhd (a work in progress, feedback appreciated)

gtODD30
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Dave

As always thank you.

How did Buzz Williams favor those 6 meetings again Wisconsin when he was at Marquette?

And on another note i'm ready 70% of tickets and 80% of money is coming in on Florida Gulf Coast vs FSU.  Which is absolutely ridiculous especially considering when I just checked FSU increased to -12.5.

FGCU wants to run and gun but are they living off of their 2013 run and people thinking FSU isn't that good (which isn't a bad thought).

FSU not covering wont surprise me but FGCU plays into how FSU wants to play.  They're at their best when they're running and FGCU isn't going to out run FSU size, athleticism and depth.

sportsinvestingtoday
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gtODD30

Dave

As always thank you.

How did Buzz Williams favor those 6 meetings again Wisconsin when he was at Marquette?

And on another note i'm ready 70% of tickets and 80% of money is coming in on Florida Gulf Coast vs FSU.  Which is absolutely ridiculous especially considering when I just checked FSU increased to -12.5.

FGCU wants to run and gun but are they living off of their 2013 run and people thinking FSU isn't that good (which isn't a bad thought).

FSU not covering wont surprise me but FGCU plays into how FSU wants to play.  They're at their best when they're running and FGCU isn't going to out run FSU size, athleticism and depth.

HC Williams was 4-1 ATS as an underdog vs. Wisconsin, 2 SU wins during his time at Marquette. 

12/12/09 Wisconsin 63-72 Regular Season L 5.5 O 132.5
12/03/11 Wisconsin 61-54 Regular Season W 7.5 U 125.5
12/08/12 Wisconsin 60-50 Regular Season W 2.5 U 130
12/07/13 Wisconsin 64-70 Regular Season W 9 O 130
12/06/14 Wisconsin 38-49 Regular Season W 12 U 130
David Malinsky
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gtODD30

How did Buzz Williams favor those 6 meetings again Wisconsin when he was at Marquette?

And on another note i'm ready 70% of tickets and 80% of money is coming in on Florida Gulf Coast vs FSU.  Which is absolutely ridiculous especially considering when I just checked FSU increased to -12.5.

FGCU wants to run and gun but are they living off of their 2013 run and people thinking FSU isn't that good (which isn't a bad thought).

FSU not covering wont surprise me but FGCU plays into how FSU wants to play.  They're at their best when they're running and FGCU isn't going to out run FSU size, athleticism and depth.

Williams was kind of a nondescript 3-3 SU and ATS in the head-to-heads vs. Wisconsin, though there was a progression - he opened 0-3 ATS, but then covered the last 3 meetings. I only have FSU working at -11 or less, and there is some misperception in that one - I am reading a lot of analysts referring back to the "Dunk City" days, but FGC was only #300 in the nation in tempo this season. I don't think their plan will be to get into a running game against an opponent with far more talent, size and depth; the question is whether they are good enough to keep it slow, especially with a rather porous defense.
sportsinvestingtoday
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Hi David,

the markets pushed Purdue now to -10 in most shops yesterday, today there have gone the other way, starting to see Vermont money enter and push the number closer to -8.5, interested to get your thoughts, here.  Do you believe it is the prevailing anti-Big Ten sentiment, that the public appears to be adopting, for instance, Vanderbilt now -2.5, MTSU now -1,

David Malinsky
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Posts: 12329
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sportsinvestingtoday

the markets pushed Purdue now to -10 in most shops yesterday, today there have gone the other way, starting to see Vermont money enter and push the number closer to -8.5, interested to get your thoughts, here.  Do you believe it is the prevailing anti-Big Ten sentiment, that the public appears to be adopting, for instance, Vanderbilt now -2.5, MTSU now -1,

It is an anti-Big 10 morning in the markets, money showing across the board against Maryland, Purdue, Minnesota and Northwestern. It is not unexpected, but it does show something that we make a critical part of the daily discussions here - most of the betting markets have been fully aware of the Big 10 being down all season, and that is happening now is folks betting an idea into a marketplace that had already largely adjusted for those very notions. 

benjy
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Hey Dave,

With the market flocking to the dogs today, one of the favorites that caught my eye is Notre Dame.  They don't turn the ball over (#6) & shoot free throws really well (#1 @ 79.9%).  I am starting to see 5.5's out there, and wanted to know what your go number is on ND?

David Malinsky
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benjy

With the market flocking to the dogs today, one of the favorites that caught my eye is Notre Dame.  They don't turn the ball over (#6) & shoot free throws really well (#1 @ 79.9%).  I am starting to see 5.5's out there, and wanted to know what your go number is on ND?

I have a small piece of Princeton +7 in that one, the Tigers not facing any kind of mismatch in terms of size or athleticism, and while part of Notre Dame's success comes in frustrating opponents that want to play fast, that will not bother this underdog. I see a competitive game in that one, at a walk-it-up pace that makes it more difficult for Princeton to lose contact.

BOARDMAN
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David Malinsky

benjy

With the market flocking to the dogs today, one of the favorites that caught my eye is Notre Dame.  They don't turn the ball over (#6) & shoot free throws really well (#1 @ 79.9%).  I am starting to see 5.5's out there, and wanted to know what your go number is on ND?

I have a small piece of Princeton +7 in that one, the Tigers not facing any kind of mismatch in terms of size or athleticism, and while part of Notre Dame's success comes in frustrating opponents that want to play fast, that will not bother this underdog. I see a competitive game in that one, at a walk-it-up pace that makes it more difficult for Princeton to lose contact.

I'm in this game from a totally total perspective . Over 133(+.5)  ,over 62 H1 and TT O63.5 on Prin and over 70.5 on ND . Both teams shoot the three real well , high % FF and willing to play in transition . And both these coaches know how to extend late gamer situations . 

Nerves ?? Maybe , but both  , particularly Prin have responded well to pressure (swept the Ivies and had to endure essentially sudden death ) . Princeton struggled early in both affairs but scored in bunches when settled in .

wbunting4
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Dave, taking a look at this Vermont/Purdue match-up...  This seems like a terrible matchup for the Catamounts.  They have had their way in the American East largely due to their athletic bigs down low (top two scorers).  Nothing will come easy for them in this matchup against Purdue's twin towers.  Also, Vermont likes to play really slow and execute in the half court.  Purdue is fine with this given their size advantage and rebounding edge.

With Purdue's offensive efficiency, 3pt shooting, and FT% along with aforementioned mismatches on the defensive end, -9 seems short.

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