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Courtside Players Club (12/23/23)

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CBB

(2 Picks)

Follow the Unit Instructions. They're there for a reason.


3:00PM EST: Arizona -6.5 (3 Units)


We're bullish on the Wildcats this year. They have all the pieces to make a serious run for a National Title and one of those is size, something FAU lacks in a big way. Besides their starting Center and leading scorer who's 7 Foot, it's pretty much an all Guards show 6'4 and under. They do rotate in a couple forwards when C Vladislav Goldin gets into foul trouble, but Arizona is longer pretty much everywhere. Arizona's starting Center Oumar Ballo also stands 7 Foot tall, but he's got a weight, strength, and athleticism advantage over Goldin. Then there's Motiejus Krivas who's 7'2 that spells Ballo.


Foul trouble has been a major issue for Goldin and specifically against good teams. FAU has played 4 high-major opponents so far this season. In those 4 games he's fouled out, gotten 4 fouls twice, and 3 fouls in another. Arizona attacks the rim better and more frequently than all of those teams too. Arizona shoots 37.7% from deep (40th), but they rank just 306th in 3-PT Rate. They do not settle for 3's and they attack the Rim. They're going to put a ton of stress on Goldin all game long and it's unlikely he will stay clean in the foul department.


Arizona is still the best rebounding team in the nation and with the size advantage that they have, that should continue. FAU played TX A&M earlier this year and the Aggies are a longer team from top to bottom (17th in rebounding). A&M outrebounded them 38-22 but still lost. FAU went 16/30 from deep that day and that's the Owls only real course of action against Arizona. That game was technically neutral site, but it was in FAU's home state just over 2 hours away.


This game's also a neutral site but it's being played in Las Vegas. There will be a pro Arizona crowd, the fans travel well, it's a national brand, and it's not too far from Home. Can't say the same for FAU who must travel across the entire country. Arizona's defense is currently 2nd in adjusted defensive efficiency. They're going to Force turnovers and get easy transition baskets; they've done it to everyone. It's why they'll win and cover games despite shooting woes. They made just 4 3-PT shots against Alabama in their last game and won by 13 points.


Arizona's also played Duke, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, and Bama. This team is no Fluke and they'll be making noise in March if they stay healthy. FAU has a nice win over TX A&M courtesy of unstoppable shooting, but they haven't impressed much. They allowed 86 points to Butler, 89 to A&M, and 98 to Illinois. Arizona's going to score points and they have the defense to sputter FAU's offense.


8:00PM EST: St. John's +11.5 (3 Units)


For starters, since UCONN rejoined the Big East in 2021 these two have met 5 times. Not a single game was decided by double digits. They placed twice last year and split the series. They both won on the road. St. John's won the first meeting 85-74 @ UConn and lost 86-95 at Home game 2. The Huskies just opened Conference Play with a brutal road loss @ Seton Hall. The Big East is a gauntlet for every team. The biggest news out of that is the Donovan Clingan injury. The prized 7'2 Big Man sprained his ankle, left the game, and never returned. He's on the wrong side of Questionable but whether he plays or not, this play is a go.


Joel Soriano is the reason why. He's either feasting or battling for St. John's tonight. As good as Clingan is, he still lacks strength. It was evident against Seton Hall all game long. Pirates center Jaden Bediako was giving up size and weight but was the stronger man in the low post. Clingan still managed to score but it wasn't like they could just throw it into the post and let him go to work. Soriano is one of the best Bigs in the Country and he banged with the the Sanogo/Clingan combo just fine in both games last year. Sanogo is off and dominating the G-League and Clingan will either be out or not 100% on a bum ankle.


Rick Pitino has St. John's playing very good basketball of late. They've won 6 of their last 7 games with their only loss coming by 6 points to Boston College. They put up a whopping 22 more shot attempts that day though. Sometimes the shots just don't fall. They're also getting guard RJ Luis back for this game. He'll be on a minutes restriction but he's played in just 1 game this season. He's a big piece of this team and a + defender as a 6'7 guard.


UConn will be forced to play 3-4 freshman in this one and that inexperience is going to cost them a few buckets. The Huskies will certainly play better than they did against Seton Hall, but St. John's has the firepower to keep this close. They shoot over 35% from the outside, get dominant big play from Soriano, and they just got more creative with Luis back. Few too many points to give a well-coached Red Storm team. Everyone wants to knock off the defending champs too, going to get St. John's best shot here.

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