BANKER (DePaul vs. St. John’s)
St Johns is a team who has been good to me over the last few weeks, thanks in large part to their powered offense. They also have one of the most talented scorers in the nation with Julian Champagnie who is a matchup nightmare with his size, quickness, and ball handling abilities at 6’8. In this game, they’ll face a DePaul team who has had a disappointing season but has been very stingy against the top competition in the Big East lately. DePaul took Providence to OT, lost to Seton Hall by 2, defeated St John’s/Marquette and nearly defeated UConn across their past 10 games so it’s not like they have been getting blown out. With that being said, I think this is the perfect spot to back St Johns in a revenge game. Last time these two teams played, it was an absolute track meet as DePaul ended up winning 99-94 as 2.5-point home underdogs.
St John’s plays at the fastest pace in the country with an average time of possession at 14.5 seconds and I don’t see DePaul being able to put up 94 points again. DePaul is currently ranked 109th in adjusted defensive efficiency, 243rd in defensive turnover percentage, and 178th in defensive 3-point percentage. They are in the bottom half of the Big East in nearly every major defensive category, and I think St Johns is going to have a field day against this porous defense. In their last meeting, DePaul shot a ridiculous 63% from 2-point range and a very solid 39% from 3. I expect both of those numbers to regress here tonight. St John’s missed 9 free throws in this game as well and barely shot over 50% from 2-point range. I think this is a very good revenge spot and should see positive regression for St John’s and negative regression for DePaul with regards to shooting percentages. Score Prediction: 44-36 St John’s 1H
Louisiana Tech has been one of the more impressive teams in conference USA this season as they come into the tournament with a first-round bye and an overall record of 21-9 and 12-6 in C-USA play. Louisiana Tech is a team who has gotten done with their offense this season as they are currently ranked 89th in adjusted offensive efficiency, 74th in offensive effective field goal percentage, and 66th in 2-point percentage. They face a Marshall squad who has historically been very good in this conference but that has not been the case this season. They have been dreadful this year, especially on defense as they are currently ranked 259th in adjusted defensive efficiency, 263rd in defensive effective field goal percentage, and 271st in defensive 3-point percentage. I think Louisiana Tech will be able to get whatever they want on the offensive end and expect them to come away with a win in what should be a high scoring and entertaining game. Score Prediction: 84-75 Louisiana Tech.
Northwestern is a team who has played well against the bottom half of the Big 10 and struggled against teams in the upper echelon. They are in a sort of limbo in the Big 10 as they aren’t good enough to beat the top 4-5 teams but always seem to beat up on the bottom feeders. The line here is interesting as Northwestern was just 12.5-point favorites at home vs Nebraska and now we are seeing a 4.5/5 line. 7 points is a big difference, and it is mainly because of how well Nebraska has been playing lately. Even though Nebraska has notched some very impressive wins over the past 2 weeks, I think the line over reaction here is too big and think Northwestern is the perfect parlay piece for tonight. Score Prediction: 75-68 Northwestern.