BANKER (CS Fullerton vs. Long Beach State)
For today’s article play I am targeting a matchup in the Big West Conference between the top 2 teams. In this matchup, Long beach state hosts Cal state Fullerton as both teams are tied for 1st in the Big West with an 8-1 conference record. LBSU has really come on over the past month and a half as they have now won 8 games in a row and were underdogs in 4 of those games. They played a tough schedule at the beginning of the season which I think prepared them well for conference play as they faced UCLA twice, USC, San Diego St, Missouri St, and Utah Valley. In those games they went 0-6 straight up but played competitive as their games with UCLA and USC were close at the half. Long Beach State has been getting it done on the offensive end lately with their fast and up-tempo style of play.
They also draw a ton of fouls on offense and shoot a lot of free throws as they are 5th in the country in foul rate drawn on offense. In this game, they face Cal State Fullerton who has been playing well lately as well going 10-1 in their last 11 games, but they have struggled offensively. Cal State Fullerton is ranked 247th in offensive effective Field Goal percentage, 282nd in 3-point percentage, and 222nd in offensive 2-point percentage so they have struggled to score the ball this year. LBSU is ranked similarly in those metrics, but LBSO has played a much tougher schedule as mentioned earlier as they played the 16th toughest non-conference schedule in the country while Cal State Fullerton was ranked 248th in that same category so CSF had a much easier schedule. LBSU has also played well in the opening half of games this season so for that reason I am rolling with Long Beach State 1H +1 at -110
West Virginia is usually a perennial powerhouse in the big 12 but they have had to deal with a lot of injuries this year and are currently dealing with a serious injury to their best player, Taz Sherman, as he has been in concussion protocol. Sherman missed their last game at home against Texas Tech and is listed as questionable for this game, but I honestly like West Virginia to win here even without Sherman, but of course it would be a bonus if he plays. West Virginia also has Sean McNeil who is a light out shooter who can take over a game. He has also improved upon his driving and ball handling skills in Sherman’s absence, so I expect a big game from him here. Iowa State has been a big surprise this year, but they have still really struggled on offense. West Virginia is ranked 32nd in defensive efficiency, 19th in defensive turnover rate, and 58th in defensive 2-point percentage so I think Iowa State will have a tough time scoring in this matchup in a hostile environment. Score Prediction: 71-63 West Virginia
Villanova has another good team this year who is also dealing with Injuries as their 2nd leading scorer and leader Justin Moore missed their last game against UConn. Collin Gillespie and the supporting cast stepped up though in that game to lead them to a double-digit win over a good UConn team. In this matchup, they faced a St Johns team who has really struggled to defend and rebound the basketball. St Johns is ranked 325th in the country in 3-point percentage defense, 338th in defensive rebounding rate, and 126th overall in adjusted defensive efficiency so they have struggled on that end. Villanova has been an offensive juggernaut this year as they are ranked 4th in overall adjusted offensive efficiency, 15th in lowest turnover rate, and they are the best free throw shooting team in the nation. St Johns also covered in the first matchup between these teams and now we are getting a shorter line because of the possibility of Moore being out again, but I still like Nova to get the job done here. Score Prediction: 81-68 Villanova.