THURSDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Re: THURSDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
4.5-Unit Play. Take #571 Ohio (-4) over Central Michigan (8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 28)
Note: This is our Game of the Month. I did lower this rating due to the unusual circumstances surrounding it.
I know that this may seem like an odd place to make a stand, but I think that this game is a mismatch and that the actual outcome will be closer to 11. If you break down the MAC this year you have the East and the West, and those two divisions might as well be two different leagues. Ohio hails from the East and is currently No. 3 in a gauntlet of a division. The two lowest ranked teams in that division are Kent State (No. 140), who went to the NCAA Tournament last year, and Bowling Green (No. 187) which played Ohio State and Minnesota to the wire on the road this year. Those are the two weakest teams. In the West, the two BEST teams are Western Michigan (No. 181) and Ball State (No. 236). So, again, the best of the West still isn't really better than the worst in the East. But that's just for starters. If we compare these two teams in terms of overall statistical power ranking we're looking at No. 117 vs. No. 272. In terms of offense, it's No. 131 vs. No. 266. In terms of defense it is No. 124 vs. No. 257. And in terms of strength of schedule it is No. 95 vs. No. 233. So, when you look at those numbers it appears that our team is TWICE as strong as the opponent and that they've proven themselves against significantly stronger competition. We also have an edge in shooting, free throws, defense, and turnovers, as well as an experience edge.
Further, if we look at teams ranked between No. 225 and No. 290 - teams in the same range as CMU - Ohio is 4-0 with an average margin of victory of 16.5 points per game. CMU, on the other hand, is 5-12 SU on the season but only one of their wins came against a team ranked higher than No. 230 - and that was a win over Wright State when Wright was missing four of its top eight players. CMU has recent home losses to Detroit (No. 263) by 12 and to WMU by 9. Ohio has a bit of a spotty road record (2-6 on the year) but other than a slip up at Delaware they don't have any bad road losses. All of their L's have come against teams ranked No. 144 or higher and they actually have a solid road win over Miami, OH. I think it's safe to say that Miami, OH is twice the team that Central Michigan is as well. But this just goes back to what I said before about how Ohio has performed much better against significantly better competition.
Also, we have Ohio coming off a tough loss to gritty Bowling Green. The Bobcats shot just 13-for-48 in that game for their worst output of the season. But that also came against the No. 37 defense in the country. The Chips are ranked No. 247 and the Bobcats should feel like they've just been let out of prison after grinding with Bowling Green for 40 minutes. CMU, on the other hand, is a terrible shooting team (41.2 percent, No. 266 in the country) and they are coming off just their second game this year in which they shot over 50 percent. After their first forray over 50 they came back down to earth quickly, hitting just 36 percent their next time out in a 14-point loss to pathetic Toledo. So we have Ohio, desperate and angry after losing two of three and not shooting well last time out, matched up against a CMU team that has won two of three against terrible competition and shooting around 10 points higher than their season average. I see things coming back to the center and I see Ohio having a strong offensive night.
On the court, we're backing the best player on the floor in Jerome Tillman. Tillman averages nearly 20 points per game this year and is probably one of the two best players in the conference. He's a senior on a team that starts three of them and he will get this team back on track tonight. CMU doesn't have anyone that can stop him. And if the Chips try to put Marcus Van on him he gets in foul trouble then CMU will lose one of its only post options. The Bobcats have an array of scoring options and should be able to work their offense against a weaker, less athletic CMU defense. And if they build a lead they are one of the top free throw shooting teams in the country at 72 percent, so we shouldn't have to worry about our side coughing one up in the last five minutes. Again, I see this as a double-digit game and I think we have the much stronger team. I think the MAC East is going to devour the West and by the end of their crossover games you won't be able to find one of these lines at less than eight points.
Finally, Ohio has absolutely dominated this series lately. They have won six straight and covered in six of seven. They have also won and covered in eight of 10 matchups and they own the all-time series 43-21. All but one of those wins were by double digits and the last eight Ohio victories have been by an average of 16.9 points per game.
3-Unit Play. Take #705 Michigan State (-6) over Iowa (7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 29)
1.5-Unit Play. Take #740 Arkansas (-5.5) over Alabama (9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 29)
1.5-Unit Play. Take #767 Wofford (+5.5) over Appalachian State (7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 29)
1.5-Unit Play. Take #707 Arkansas-LR (-2.5) over Florida Atlantic (7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 29)
1.5-Unit Play. Take #754 Cal (+10) over UCLA (10:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 29)
1.5-Unit Play. Take #730 Arizona State (-10.5) over Washington State (9 p.m.)
That's it for today. I have leans on Long Beach State, Canisius, Rutgers, Clemson and Dayton. And because I didn't rate them out and play them you know that means that they are money in the bank!