It's time for the tenth edition of the College Basketball Weekly Schedule Spot Fade Picks article. Last season was the first for this article.
I'll be looking at schedule spots that could be bad ones for teams throughout the course of the season and then recommending plays based on those spots. We'll track the weekly results throughout the course of the season. For games that don't have a line at the time each article is written, the Bookmaker opening line will be used for grading purposes. All plays will be one-unit plays.
After a nice run in recent weeks, the plays weren't good at all last week. Cal State Northridge kept it close against UC Irvine and cashed. Belmont led big early in the second half, but they took their foot off the gas and failed to cover. William & Mary lost at home to Hofstra. Evansville was stunned by an Illinois State team that now has some serious momentum in the Missouri Valley Conference (win at home over Wichita State and then on the road at Evansville). Finally, UC Riverside didn't show up ready to play any defense and Cal Poly won a shootout on the road in the Big West.
Let's try to get things back on track this week.
Play #1- Play on Arkansas -14.5 (Fade Auburn) on Wednesday, February 17
The Auburn Tigers have some serious problems. Bruce Pearl's team was thin in the backcourt to start with, but now without Kareem Canty they have been getting absolutely crushed. Canty was the team's leading scorer at more than 18 points per game, but he was suspended and subsequently left the team.
Arkansas is coming off embarrassing losses on the road at Mississippi State and Ole Miss last week. This Razorbacks team is a totally different animal at home. Arkansas has a strong backcourt led by Anthlon Bell and Dusty Hannahs. To say that Auburn won't be able to matchup well with that is a major understatement. This is a good spot for Arkansas to bounce back, and it's hard to see Auburn faring well against a team that presses so much when they have almost no backcourt.
Play #2- Play on Chattanooga (Fade VMI) on Thursday, February 18
The Chattanooga Mocs are flying under the radar this year. Chattanooga plays in the Southern Conference, where even very good teams don't get much publicity, but still this is a team that is 23-4 on the year. Consider the fact that they have beaten both Georgia and Dayton on the road this year, and you'll see that this team is the real deal.
VMI had lost six games in a row before picking up a 86-72 win at home against UNC Greensboro in their last game. I feel like this is a spot where VMI rolls back over and gets beaten up on again. A team like VMI who struggles all year isn't likely to put together back to back good performances. They invested a lot in getting that win at home last game, and they were able to do it. Now, they are back on the road, where they have been terrible. Inside the conference, VMI has only lost one game by less than 15 points. This one should get ugly.
Play #3- Play on Gonzaga (Fade St. Mary's) on Saturday, February 20
The Gonzaga Bulldogs missed out on a great chance to pick up a much-need booster for their NCAA Tournament chances when they lost at SMU on Saturday night. Gonzaga led for much of the game, but they fell apart late. Kyle Wiltjer was 2 for 17 from the floor in that game. Now, the Bulldogs have no room for error if they are going to get in the NCAA Tournament this year.
St. Mary's plays a tricky game at Portland on Thursday night, and then they go to Gonzaga to take on the Bulldogs. Looking back at the first meeting between these teams, it was Gonzaga that led on the road much of the game, but they collapsed in the final few minutes and St. Mary's edged them out. I don't expect Gonzaga to leave this one close enough for St. Mary's to take at the end. The Gaels shooting numbers are also noticeably lower on the road. Gonzaga gets a nice win here.
Play #4- Play on UC Irvine (Fade Hawaii) on Saturday, February 20
The UC Irvine Anteaters went to Hawaii last week and got whipped all the way back to the mainland. Hawaii won 74-52 in a game that was expected to be very close. These are the two best teams in the Big West this year. Hawaii has been good on the road so far this year, but for a very long time Hawaii has had trouble winning big games away from their home floor. Hawaii plays at Cal State Northridge on Thursday night and then travels to Irvine on Saturday.
UC Irvine made four three-pointers in the first game between these teams. Hawaii banged home 14 from long range. UC Irvine is actually the better team from long range on the year, and I look for that statistic to look a lot different in this game. Hawaii isn't in an easy travel spot, and UC Irvine is out for revenge. I'll take UC Irvine.
Last Week's Results- 1 Win (Cal State Northridge +11) 4 Losses (Belmont -17, William & Mary -3.5, Evansville -9, UC Riverside -1)
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