Grace's Past Picks
Models have these teams separated by less than 2 points. The Razorbacks can keep up with Duke defensively, particularly on the inside. They also rank #9 in block % and crash the boards well, which will prevent second-chance points for Duke. Hogs may be able to make the Blue Devils uncomfortable with a faster tempo on the road.
Both teams have been getting a little lucky in their shooting and are due negative regression, per Shot Quality. Models project 157.
Models project 127. Slow pace will dictate with total with Campbell averaging 66.5 possessions/game (341st in the country) and Jacksonville averaging 67.1 (326th). Both teams rank below #300 in offensive efficiency.
Models project 135. Army has been shooting 24% from midrange and 28% from 3, but is due some positive regression. Shot Quality says the Knights expected FG percentages are 39% from midrange and 32% from 3. The opportunities will be there for Army, as its 47.9% 3-pt rate is 15th-highest in the country.
Models project Illinois by 3, or a virtual coin flip on a neutral site. Northwestern hasn't been great at moving the ball, but it does finish drives, averaging 4.4 points per scoring opportunity. QB Ben Bryant has looked good the last two games, averaging 7.5 yards/attempt vs. Wisconsin and 9.2 yards/attempt vs. Purdue. Now he faces a worse Illinois secondary that ranks #104 in success rate and #106 in EPA/play.
Dan Lanning called this game "our Super Bowl," and the Ducks are out for revenge after last year's loss in Corvallis that knocked them out of the PAC-12 CG. I still think Oregon will win, but such a large spread feels disrespectful to the Beavers. Their three losses were by a combined 8 points. OSU has an elite rushing attack, ranking #2 nationally in success rate and #10 in plays of 10+ yards. They're led by Damien Martinez' 6.3 yards/carry and an O-line that PFF rates #1 in run-blocking grade. The spread should be closer to 10, and the market agrees. The tickets are split, but 91% of the handle is on OSU.
Models project 146. Minnesota is an average team, but ARPB is still outmatched in every area. The one edge the Lions might have is they take a lot of outside shots, with a 45% 3-pt rate. However, the Gophers match up well, as they only allow opponents a 31.6% 3-pt rate (#65 nationally). This also fits a system play: In non-conference games with a big spread (6+ possessions, aka 16+ points) and high total (145+ points), the under hits 54.7% of the time for a 5.3% ROI.
Models project 139. Several steam moves have already moved the number to 141 at some books. There are contrasting styles of play here, with New Mexico State running at an average pace, but Fresno State running about as slow as you can get, averaging 66.9 possessions/game (#325 nationally). The Bulldogs are a great shooting team, but their defense is also good enough to stifle NMSU to keep this under.
Models project 147. Alabama A&M is outmatched in every area, so this pick subscribes to the theory that massive favorites will jump out to a lead, then let off the gas late in the game. There's a betting system to back this up: In non-conference games with a big spread (6+ possessions, aka 16+ points) and high total (145+ points), the under hits 54.7% of the time for a 5.3% ROI. Auburn's defense is holding opponents to 18.7 seconds/possession, so that helps slow the pace.
Models project 133. These are two of the slowest-paced teams in the country. UNC-Wilmington has an adjusted tempo of 67.2 (#316 nationally), and App State's tempo is 68.1 (#273). Both are above-average defensive rebounding teams -- UNCW ranks #39 and App ranks #83. On offense, both teams' 3-point rate is well below average.
Models project 140 in a fairly competitive contest. San Diego will lead the way with its above-average 53.3% effective FG rate, which includes making 38.5% of its shots from deep (#51 nationally). SD also books trips to the charity stripe at a high rate (#76 nationally), and is above-average shooting from there (73.7%, #108 in the country).
This pick is blindly trusting models and following market movement, as neither team rates highly at anything. Models project 133. Several steam moves have already moved the line down from 139. These are two of the slowest-paced teams in the country: Bellarmine averages 65.8 possessions/game (#349 nationally), while Morehead averages 68.2 possessions/game (#282).
Models project 149. Purdue is already one of the slowest teams in the country in adjusted tempo, but Gonzaga is running a bit slower to start the year too, holding opponents to 18.7 seconds/possession. Both clean the defensive glass at a high level while preventing second-chance points. While these are two of the best offensive teams in the country, they also rate above-average in every important defensive metric. Only a couple baskets separate two evenly-matched teams, so expect defense to be tight.
Models project 140 points. Tennessee is a Top-4 team in defensive efficiency. Cuse already isn't shooting well from deep, and it'll get tougher against the Vols. They rank #29 in defending the 3, holding opponents to just 24.7% shooting from beyond the arc.
Creighton ranks Top-5 in offensive efficiency with an absurd 67.2% effective FG rate. Enough said there. Texas Southern's offensive metrics look terrible to start the season, but it's a product of the opponents they've played in UVA, Arizona State and New Mexico. All rank Top-100 in defensive efficiency. Not saying their numbers will improve against the Bluejays, but TXSO is competitive in the SWAC, winning 3-straight titles. So it won't roll over despite the hefty spread. It also runs plays at a fast rate. Models have the total at 147.