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New Year’s Day Men’s Hoops

A new year and a new slate of basketball matchups on the docket. We previously discussed the state of the league and we are tracking the postponements over on this page.

Here we go:

Jan 1

UTSA at Rice 2pm central time on ESPN+
WKU at Charlotte 2 eastern on Stadium
ODU at FIU 5 eastern on ESPN+
Marshall at LaTech 6:30 pm central on ESPN+
UTEP at USM 7pm central on ESPN+

MTSU at FAU Postponed
UAB at UNT Postponed

Jan 2

ODU at FIU 1 eastern on ESPN+
UTSA at Rice 2pm central time on ESPN+
WKU at Charlotte 2 eastern on Stadium
Marshall at LaTech 6 pm central on ESPN+
UTEP at USM 4pm central on ESPN+
UNT at Loyola Chicago 630pm on ESPN+

MTSU at FAU Postponed

All spreads and predictions are for the first game, although kenpom predicts no splits.

UTSA at Rice

Can Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace be more efficient in their iso-heavy offense and can the Runners play some defense? At its most simple, this matchup is about UTSA’s offense and Rice’s poor defense vs Rice’s poor offense against UTSA’s terrible defense. We should see a lot of three point shots in this one. If Jhivvan Jackson is going to lead the nation in scoring and make a case for OPOY in the league it starts here.

ESPN’s Power Index has Rice as 63% as the winner. The spread is around -2.5 for UTSA (opened -2 for Rice). Kenpom has this as a ~3 point loss for Rice, as well.

WKU at Charlotte

WKU is beginning the march to the regular season title they feel is theirs, and being that they are the most talented team in the league, that feeling is justified. Charlotte’s packline defense has not been so effective as planned this season but there is time. Watch this because WKU is the best squad in the league but also for the talent on display at CLT –> Jahmir Young and Jordan Shepherd are fun.

ESPN has this as 68% for WKU, the spread is -6.5 for WKU and Kenpom has this as as about a 5-point win for WKU as well.

ODU at FIU

ODU is a slim favorite by all the metrics — although ESPN’s power index says FIU 55%. Combine all that and it tells you no one knows what is going to happen here. ODU’s offense needs to be more efficient to compete at the pace and style it wants. It was not even that efficient when they won the title, which is partly why they needed a miracle shot from Caver to beat Tech. FIU will have a tough defense to attack in this one.

Marshall at La Tech

This should be a good ‘un. Marshall has talent — Taevion Kinsey — and a much improved defense. Tech is a solid team (pretty good defense as well) and has a nice offense. This is a sort-em-out kind of game where we find out who is actually good.

Marshall is favored by ESPN (52.5%) and the spread is -1.5 in their favor. Kenpom also has them winning this one.

UTEP at USM

The Miners are favored in this one, and we should see Boum get more points (he’s at 19.8 for the season). The Miners have hopes for contention and USM… doesn’t. Although if you ask their fans on twitter we are sleeping on them and they will shock the world and beat all comers.

ESPN has UTEP at 62.1%, the spread is -5.5 for El Paso, and Kenpom also has them winning by about five.

Sunday: UNT at Loyola Chicago

North Texas was supposed to host UAB this weekend but the contact tracing stemming from last week among the Blazers prevented this weekends games to continue. NT scheduled a good Loyola Chicago instead and this will be a good test. For NT it will be a top-50 kenpom opponent on the road, which means it is a Tier A kind of game. Basically NT will be tested and that’s better than sitting at home for another week.

ESPN has Loyola Chicago winning this at 72%, there are no lines available as of this writing, although I am sure a bookie will take your bet someplace. LOYC has a good offense and a tough defense and the same can be said about North Texas. As ever, the concern for NT is how they react when Javion Hamlet is targeted by the opposition defense.

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