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Courtside Players Club (12/20/23)

CBB

(3 Picks)


7:00PM EST: UConn/SH Under 140.5 (4 Units)


UConn ranks 315th and Seton Hall 243rd in Adjusted Tempo. If the Pirates are to have any shot at an upset, getting into a track meet and shoot out with one of the Country's best offenses isn't going to do it. The Pirates are a tough out when at Prudential Center, especially with a top team coming to town. The Venue almost always sells out and the arena is electric. The Huskies have actually lost each of their last 2 road trips to Seton Hall, including a big upset last year.


Both Head-to-Head meetings last season were lower scoring affairs. Seton Hall took Game 1 67-66 at Home. UConn won game 2 at Home 64-55. Shaheen Holloway took over as HC of the Pirates last season. They went 17-16 overall and 10-10 in Big East Play. His St. Peter's teams also played at a slower pace with + defense. The Pirates were ranked 20th by years end in defensive efficiency last season. They've gotten off to a bit of a sluggish start in 2023 but most of their struggles have come on the road. They are working some new pieces is as is the new norm with the transfer portal, but the talent is there. Holloway can coach, especially defense, St. Peters ranked 25th in defensive efficiency his final season and then SH was 20th in his first year.


They don't match up too poorly with UConn either. Seton Hall starts 4 Guards but two of them are long at 6'6. The Donovan Clingan vs Jaden Bediako battle is the one to watch. Clingan holds an advantage, just a matter of how much. Bediako is 6'10, 245, Clingan 7'2, 275. Bediako is a 5th year man who's played in 122 Division 1 Games. He's been a bright spot for the Pirates this season and plays strong down low. Bediako rotates with the 6'11, 255 Elijah Hutchins-Everett. Seton Hall has the length and bodies to at least throw at Clingan. When Clingan comes out he's replaced by Samson Johnson. Johnson's an incredible athlete at 6'10, 225 but he lacks strength. He's good for an alley-oop or two per game. Outside of that UConn has forward Alex Karaban whose 6'8 that poses a size threat. But with the longer guards the Pirates really aren't overpowered here.


The Pirates offense is certainly going to struggle to score. UConn is one of the best defensive teams in the nation and they've used every chance to prove that. They've allowed just 2 teams to score more than 70 points against them this season. Texas scored 71 and North Carolina 76. They won both games by Double Digits and kept both below their season average FG%. Both of those teams also possess 3-PT threats. The Pirates rank 294th in 3-PT % this season. With that they don't shoot many, ranking 310th in 3-PT Rate. Going to be tough sledding trying to score inside with Clingan protecting the Rim. Going to be hard enough to get inside with the way UConn's backcourt defends. Even harder when they know you can't shoot.


Expect this game to look similar to last season's contests. The Pirates defense will provide a gutsy enough performance at Home in front of a packed crowd. Dan Hurley's Huskies haven't scored more than 70 points against Seton Hall in 4 straight meetings and this current UConn team certainly isn't better than lasts. The Under has also cashed in all 4 of those meetings, let’s make it 5.


7:00PM EST: (St. John's) Joel Soriano Over 10.5 Rebounds (2 Units).


Soriano is one of the best rebounders in the Nation, especially on offense. The Big fella is averaging 4.6 offensive rebounds per game, 2nd most in the Nation and first among the high majors. He gets an Xavier defense that ranks 196th in defensive rebounding %. They're allowing opponent's 10.5 offensive rebounds per game, 311th in CBB.


Xavier doesn't have an elite rebounder or rim protector. Abou Ousmane is their starting Big but he's shorter, lighter, and less experienced than Soriano. Joel is one of the better Bigs in the entire country. Ousmane also struggles to stay on the floor. He's had 4 fouls in each of his last 5 games and fouled out of 2 games earlier this year against Washington and Purdue. He didn't have to worry about elite big play in any of the past 5 games either. They also use freshman Sasa Ciani who's again, shorter, lighter, and less experienced. He also fouled out of their last game on just 14 minutes.


Soriano's point total's set at 18.5 which is just a bit too high to take. Don't be surprised to see Xavier double him and bring help if he secures the ball in the post. He averages 10.5 rebounds per game this year and that's why this line's set at 10.5. He averaged 11.9 last season, and the numbers are just down because he's played less minutes against mid to low major teams. He averaged 30.4 minutes per game last year and is at 27.7 this year. He's played more than 30 minutes just 4 times this year and has gone over this rebound total in everyone. He's also gone over this in 2 of his last 3 and game up 1 short last time out on just 24 minutes against Fordham.


He dropped weight and is in better shape this year, doing so for availability purposes. In what should be a close and high-flying affair, he'll see plenty of opportunities. Xavier ranks 58th and St. John's 73rd in adjusted Tempo. Both Sean Miller and Rick Pitino want their teams to play fast and in transition. Going to be a lot of shots attempted and a lot of rebounds up for grabs tonight. This total is set at 158 after all.


9:00PM EST: (Creighton) Steven Ashworth Over 8.5 Points (2 Units)


The Creighton point guard has been a bit quiet the last few contests. He did score 12 points in their most recent win over Alabama on 3-7 FG and 2-6 from 3 but he scored just 2 points in each of the previous 2 contests. He combined to go 1-10 from the field and 0-7 from deep in those 2 games. He started to bust out of his shooting slump against Bama and came up big at the end of that game.


He's a phenomenal 3-PT shooter. He shot 43.4% from beyond the arc last season and 39.2% the season before that. He's currently at 38.9% this season but that's after hitting just 2 of his last 13. Of Creighton's 11 games, he's made at least 2 Three's in 7 of them. If there's a team to bust out of that 3-PT slump in a big way, it's Villanova. Nova ranks 306th in opponent 3-PT % at 36.3%. Nearly every team has shot above their season average from deep when playing the wildcats. It's not like they're just some unlucky bunch, they rank 333rd in opponent 3-PT rate at 43.8%. Teams are shooting a bunch of threes and hitting them at a high rate because they're getting open looks.


He's also their closer. He's a career 88% FT shooter and knocking down 92.9% of them this year. Last week in a 1-point game with just seconds remaining against Alabama, it was Ashworth they entrusted to go to the line. He made both free throws and put them up by 3. He is their point guard and the natural choice to inbound the ball to in these situations. Creighton's laying 8.5 points to Nova tonight but this is an in-conference game that may find itself tighter towards the end. Nova has 4 losses this year, 3 of which were by 4 points or less. The 1 outlier was when we were on St. Joe's in their blowout win.

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