BANKER (Loyola Marymount vs. Bellarmine)
Loyola Marymount is a solid team out of the WCC who has gotten off to a somewhat average start to the year. They’ve had a very tough schedule as their losses are to teams including Florida state, Nevada, NMSU, Chattanooga, and Grand Canyon. Those 5 teams have a combined record of 42-15 so LMU has faced some stiff competition so far. LMU is a very experienced team who I believe will be able to take advantage of Bellarmine’s struggles on the defensive end.
Bellarmine is 311th in defensive adjusted efficiency, 341st in defensive effective field goal percentage, 349th in defensive 2-point FG%, and 293rd in defensive turnover percentage. So, it’s safe to say that Bellarmine has a lot of issues on defense. Loyola Marymount is led by Eli Scott, a 6’6 combo guard who is averaging 17/7/3 on 50% shooting and 23% shooting from deep. Scott is more of a driver and slasher compared to an outside shooter and I think this is a fantastic matchup for him given how much Bellarmine struggles to defend the paint and 2-point field goals.
Bellarmine has given up at least 68 points in every single game against D1 opponents this season and I think LMU will be able to take advantage of this, as offense has been their downfall in their losses so far this season. I think LMU’s tough schedule to this point will have them prepared against a Bellarmine team who has played very below average defense to this point in the season. LMU is very physical on the inside and has no trouble grinding out low scoring games and I think their toughness will give Bellarmine’s offense a hard time. Bellarmine has an explosive offense as times, but I think they’ll greatly struggle against the length and athleticism that LMU presents. Score Prediction: 75-67.
UConn had a lot of expectations coming into this season and they have somewhat lived up to them with some impressive wins, but they’ve been scuffling a bit lately. UConn is only 1-2 in their last 3 games including losses to West Virginia and Providence. UConn is extremely physical with length, athleticism, and toughness at every position on the floor meaning that they play extremely solid defense but at the expense of their offensive production.
Their offense can be very anemic at times shine by their production in their last 2 losses where they only scored 53 points in each game. Marquette is a team who plays at a very fast and frenetic pace. I don’t think that’s a good strategy to beat a UConn team who wants to get out in transition for dunks and open threes. To beat UConn, you have to slow the game down to a snail’s pace and execute in the half court. Marquette struggled against teams like UCLA and St bonaventure who are defensive minded teams just like UConn. I think UConn controls this game with their defense and will find just enough offense to come out right a win, Score Prediction: 71-65 UConn.
Utah is an interesting team who has been hot and cold so far this season. They’ve played a relatively mediator schedule and for the most part, beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to the teams they were supposed to lose to, but they struggled against a fairly bad Missouri team which was surprising.
I think this is a good get right spot for Utah as Fresno State has played an incredibly weak schedule and lost to the only good teams they’ve played so far in California and San Francisco. Utah is the more talented team and being at home should give them the lift they need to come away with a win. Score Prediction: 74-66 Utah.