What usually is one of the best times in the sports world has been overhauled with the crisis going on due to the Coronavirus. Things are rapidly changing on the sports front with the NBA suspending the season and many leagues wondering if and when they will halt play. On the college basketball side, the timing couldn’t be worse with the tournament next week, but as of right now, they will plan on playing with no fans in the stands. We are in the thick of conference tournament season and we have a ton of games tipping off today despite the rapidly changing news. This article is going to cover a lot of different aspects of the upcoming slate of games. It will highlight a CBB DFS play that stands out and a potential game I like for the upcoming night of action.
Biggest game on the slate
North Carolina State vs. Duke -8 , O/U 152.5
Since most of the major conferences are just getting their tournaments underway, we mostly have mismatches between the top and bottom seeds. There will be bigger games in the coming days, but there are still some significant ones to analyze now. Probably the biggest is down in Greensboro where North Carolina State takes on Duke in the quarterfinals.
North Carolina State is firmly on the bubble. They got the job done against Pittsburgh last game and now get a third shot at Duke who they split with during the regular season. If the Wolfpack are to win the rubber match, they are going to need Markell Johnson to lead the way, as he controls the offense and led the conference in assists. The Wolfpack are a balanced bunch, though, as they have four players who average 12 to 13 points per game. That makes them difficult to defend and they should test Duke’s defense.
Duke sits at 25-6 on the season, but at times they have looked uncharacteristically shaky down the stretch, dropping three of their last six games. A deep run in the ACC tournament will solidify a quality seed for the Blue Devils and set them up for success next week. They have freshman Vernon Carey on the inside — who is going to cause problems for the North Carolina State frontcourt — and Tre Jones averaging 6.4 assists per game. If Jones can win the battle against Johnson, that will be a catalyst for Duke moving on to the semis.
North Carolina State needs this game much more than Duke as they could be left out of the field all together without a win. They avoided disaster against Pitt yesterday, but another win against Duke would be the final touch on the resume and provide a stress-free selection Sunday. North Carolina State has multiple go-to options which can make them difficult to defend. However, with Carey on the inside and the experience with Jones in the backcourt, Duke has the edge to survive and advance. In terms of the spread, I lean to North Carolina State and the points as they are the more desperate team, even though there are spots on this slate I prefer over this one.
CBB DFS Target
Ty-Shon Alexander – Creighton – $7900 DraftKings
There is an 11-game CBB DFS slate to break down featuring teams from across the country. One of the matchups takes place at Noon EST from Madison Square Garden as Creighton will get their postseason started against upset-minded St. John’s.
Creighton is a dark horse to make a deep run in the tournament as they are a prolific offense who averages 78 points per game. That allows them to remain a threat in March while being average at best defensively. The big question in this game is what will Creighton due now that Marcus Zegarowski is out with a knee injury? That is a gigantic loss as Zegarowski averaged 16 points, five assists and four rebounds on the season. It will take a team effort to replace that production and the Blue Jays are hopeful to have him back for the tournament.
Even without Zegarowski, Creighton has plenty of firepower and that starts with leading scorer Ty-Shon Alexander. He will be asked to do even more with Zegarowski’s injury and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him increase the volume and production across the board. He is going to play major minutes and isn’t shy about launching from behind the arc (at least eight 3-point attempts in last three games). Other guys will get additional minutes with the injury, but the usage should fall to Alexander who is clearly the go-to guy for Creighton.
St. John’s is going to have a tough time slowing down Creighton even if the Blue Jays aren’t 100% healthy. The Red Storm love to get up and down and that should benefit Alexander as well with his abilities in transition. On an 11-game slate, you are going to have plenty of options to choose from, but this is a spot I like to target and I think Alexander will lead Creighton to a relatively easy win today at Madison Square Garden.
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CBB Game Against the Spread
VCU -7 vs. Massachusetts, O/U 136.5
The A-10 also gets fully underway today at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Dayton is the class of the conference, but we have a few teams looking to make runs, including VCU. The Rams have been a Cinderella before, and although that’s a stretch this year, they have a winnable first-round matchup with UMass.
VCU sits at 18-13 on the year and comes into the game on life support having lost seven of their last eight. One of those losses was up in Amherst to UMass in late February, so they will be looking to even the season series. VCU has stuck to their usual style this season as they force a ton of turnovers with their aggressive defense. They rank sixth in the country in forced-turnover percentage and are also sixth in steals, per KenPom. Offensively, they rely on junior forward Marcus Santos-Silva, but defense is their identity.
UMass is just 14-17 on the season, but they come into the game having won four of six. They are very young, so it is not surprising to see them make some strides late in the season and the future looks bright for the Minutemen. The centerpiece of that future is big man Tre Mitchell, who in his freshman year has a healthy 17.7 points and seven rebounds on the season. He is a problem for most defenses and just torched VCU with a 19 points and 15 boards in the last meeting. If he can avoid foul trouble, he should have his way against VCU’s bigs and could easily replicate that showing.
One of the most important things to analyze in college basketball is where teams are late in the season. Some teams are limping to the finish line, while others are trying to finish strong despite not having the talent or resume to find postseason play. VCU is struggling as of late, and besides their aggressive defensive style, they don’t have much to cause opponents problems. On the other side, UMass is coming in playing their best basketball of the season and they have a guy in Mitchell who is a true superstar in the making. UMass is getting seven points and the line is slightly shading toward VCU, so we could see this move to 7.5 by game time. I will grab the points, but I also think UMass could pull an upset tonight.
My Pick: Massachusetts +7 (-105)
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