Michigan, undefeated (10-0) under former NBA star Juwon Howard, has proven itself to an extremely efficient offense, and they have outshot opponents 62%-39% inside the three-point arc.
That is a by-product of the arrival of freshman Hunter Dickinson, a 7-1, 255-pound load in the middle, who is coming off his best scoring effort of the season - 28 points against Minnesota. Thus far, he's made 75% of his field goal attempts.
That suggests limited range, of course, so it's important that Wisconsin, well-disciplined under Greg Gard, has limited its foes to just 42% from two-point range. They'll have to rotate on Dickinson, but they have at least a couple of big men who can do it (Micah Potter, Nate Reuvers). What the Badgers have at their disposal is the ability to stretch out defenses, with multiple players - including the big guys - who can hit shots from the outside.
And if you were looking for Wisconsin to give away cheap opportunities, forget it. They are perhaps the nation's best team at taking care of the ball (and are also third in turnover percentage). In their double-overtime win over Indiana the other day, they committed SEVEN turnovers in 50 minutes.
This is unquestionably a step up for the Wolverines. And Wisconsin should be prepared to give Dickinson something of an indoctrination. They haven't played much on the road, but have scored a straight-up win over Michigan State in East Lansing.
The Gators have shot just 30-of-84 (35.7%) from TWO-point range over the last two games. That's horrible. And consider that Florida is a veteran team - there aren't any freshmen to be found in their main rotation - and Kentucky, a struggling team that has five frosh in the rotation, was able to stifle them.
Will they do all that much better against Ole Miss?
Look, the Rebels can't shoot all that well from the outside (only 28.6% from three-point range, in fact), but Kermit Davis' team can make life difficult for Florida when the Gators have the ball. The situation is this - Florida actually shoots very well from the perimeter (38.5% triples), but they are one of those teams that just doesn't do it enough; only about a third of their shots are taken from downtown.
Well, Ole Miss is one of the better teams in the nation at stopping teams inside the arc, allowing a little less than 43% shooting. And here's the interesting thing - they are also pretty damn good at turning opponents over - on 26% of possessions, in fact. That is ninth best out of 357 Division I teams.
We know we threw a lot of numbers at you. But this communicates that Florida is a rather unreliable favorite here.
College Basketball Odds: St.John's -2, Total 144.5
It is the aim of St. John's coach Mike Anderson to force opponents into a faster tempo, during which they will commit turnovers. The numbers demonstrate that fact - the Red Storm have made foes cough it up on 23% of possessions. Anderson, of course, is a disciple of the great Nolan Richardson, who is known far and wide for his "40 Minutes of Hell" approach.
But the Johnnies have more difficulty causing holy hell against the better teams. Case in point was the last outing against Creighton, which turned it over only twelve times and rolled to a 97-79 victory even without star player Marcus Zegarowski.
And if they can't get a transition opportunity on defense, they have a horrible time stopping people in the half-court, allowing 38.5% triples and 54.8% inside the arc. So that makes the mission clear for Butler, which isn't necessarily a dead-eye team from the outside. But St. John's was last seen leaving a lot of people wide-open out on the perimeter, and Creighton made them pay.
In a game of tempo, the Red Storm wants to speed it up, while Butler (278th in Adjusted Tempo) is well-accustomed to slowing it down. Right now, Anderson doesn't have his team operating efficiently enough to impose their will. And with Butler having welcomed back senior point guard Aaron Thompson (seven TO's in four games) from a knee sprain,they are a lot steadier at handling pressure.
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