BANKER (UMass vs. Fordham)
Fordham is an interesting team out of the A-10, and this will be a very interesting matchup because of the contrasting styles of both teams. Fordham is a team who plays at a very slow pace and is comfortable playing very low scoring games. They combat their offensive struggles by playing solid defense as they are currently ranked 47th in the country in overall adjusted defensive efficiency, 73rd in defensive effective field goal percentage, and 58th in defensive 3-pooint percentage. They face a UMass team who is the complete opposite in terms of style. UMass is a team who wants to play fast and put up as many shots and points as possible. UMass has solid offensive numbers this season, but they have really struggled on defense.
UMass is currently ranked 340th in overall adjusted defensive efficiency, 350th in defensive effective field goal percentage, 331st in defensive 3-point percentage, and 344th in defensive 2-point percentage. You might expect those types of numbers from a SWAC or MEAC team but not from a decent A-10 team who didn’t play a gauntlet of a schedule like the SWAC usually does. UMass has also struggled on the road this season as they are 2-7 away from home. Fordham has been without 2 of their best players due to injury but they have still been winning games and are playing very competitive due to their defense. They have notched home wins over George Mason, La Salle, Rhode Island and played very tough in close home losses to VCU and Davidson. Fordham is a tough team to watch as they can go on long scoring droughts but in these types of games, I am willing to ride the home team with an infinitely better defense. I think Fordham should be able to make enough shots to get a win and close it out with their defense down the stretch. Score Prediction: 71-64 Fordham.
Texas Southern is always one of the top teams out of the SWAC and this year is no different. Texas Southern is currently at the top of the SWAC standings with a 12-4 conference record and in this game, they are in a revenge spot vs an Alcorn St team who narrowly defeated them by 1 point in their first meeting. Texas Southern mounted a nearly 15-point comeback and had multiple chances to win the game but fell just short in the deciding moments. I think Texas Southern starts much faster in this game and should be able to come away with a much-needed home win. Alcorn St is right on their heels with an 11-4 SWAC record and if Alcorn St wins tonight, they will likely be the regular season SWAC champions with only a few remaining games on the schedule. I expect full focus from Texas Southern tonight as this is their chance to take control of the regular season SWAC championship. Score Prediction: 72-62 Texas Southern
Iowa has been really good over the last 5-10 years and while they got off to a rocky start this year, they are currently surging at the right time. They are back in the top 25 and have won 6 of their last 7 games including wins over Michigan St, Ohio St, Minnesota, and Maryland. Of those 6 wins, all were by double digits, and they looked very impressive in each of those games. Iowa has been getting it done with a very explosive offensive attack led by Keegan Murray who is in the running for player of the year. Murray is a 6’8 combo guard who is a matchup nightmare due to his ability to get to the rim and pull up from mid-range. Northwestern is a solid team, but they just haven’t been able to keep up with the upper echelon of the Big 10 this year and I think Iowa just has too much firepower offensively for the wildcats to keep up. I think Iowa gets off to a fast start and should take a lead into the locker room at the break. Score Prediction: 43-36 Iowa 1H