DJ Dimes here, bringing you another update on the college hoop gambling marketplace. Per my colleagues suggestion, I have decided to separate out the "Vegas Darlings & Duds" section (shown here) from the "Green Magic Results" section, which will now get it's own post.
Let's take a closer look at which teams have been paying dividends for their backers...
A few observations about the top performers against the number since the beginning of conference play:
- Marshall: Meet the 2016 Vegas "Cinderella". After being picked by most to finish near the bottom of the Conference-USA standings, the Herd are now 11-3 in league play and only one game back of UAB for sole possession of 1st place. In his second year at the helm, Dan D'Antoni (younger brother of Mike D'Antoni) has successfully instilled his older brother's run-and-gun, breakneck tempo of basketball at Marshall. The D'Antoni style is all about getting high-percentage 2s and jacking a ton of 3s in transition. Per Kenpom.com, the [now appropriately-named] "Thundering Herd" are the 2nd fastest team in college basketball, behind only Duggar Baucom's lightning-paced Citadel squad. They are currently 6th in the nation in 2-point FG% (56%), and only 14 teams have attempted more 3s than the Herd this year. Senior James Kelly has emerged as a legit C-USA POTY candidate, but the solidification of the point-guard position may be the biggest reason for this year's turnaround. Last year, D'Antoni relied heavily on freshman point guard Aleska Nikolic, who was simply disastrous at taking care of the ball in the blistering-paced system (31% TO Rate). Through the almighty transfer market, D'Antoni found himself a gem in 6'3 190-pound point guard Jon Elmore, previously at VMI. Since the beginning of conference play, Elmore has produced a top-10 O-Rating in the country (118.8), shooting 45% from 3 (45/110) and dishing out 6 assists per game, which is good for the 7th best Assist Rate in the nation (28%). It also helps that his TO Rate (15%) is half of what his predecessor Nikolic posted the prior year. Ironically, it was Duggar Baucom's departure from VMI that put the wheels in motion for Elmore's transfer to Marshall. Elmore initially committed to play for Duggar in the legendary nonstop, fast-break VMI offense, but chose to re-consider his collegiate home once Duggar bolted for the Citadel before this season. This gave D'Antoni a golden opportunity to sell the allure of starting right away at the point guard position, in the same up-tempo style he signed up for at VMI. Needless to say, the marriage has proven to be an overwhelming success, and Marshall now finds themselves as one of the C -USA tourney favorites come March.
- Oakland: Big Greg Kampe has the Grizz playing lights-out on the road in Horizon league play, with their only loss coming at Valpo by 2 points (good enough for a cover). Though Kay Felder's hype has died down since the epic Michigan St. game way back in December, he is continuing to play at an elite level. While his shooting clips from the field are average (48% from 2, 37% from 3), Felder achieves his supreme efficiency via the James Harden model of living at the foul line. Already this year, Felder has cashed-in on 85% of his 242 free-throw attempts.
- Hawaii: While Louisville and SMU made headlines with their self-imposed postseason ban this year, the Rainbow Warriors will wait until next year to sit in timeout. They can thank the NCAA for this one-year deferral, as it now paves the way for what may end up being the the program's best season ever. The Oahu boys are now 11-1 in Big West action, and have climbed into the top 50 of Kenpom.com's overall ranks. Hawaii is led by a number of versatile and athletic guards, who anchor the pressure defense and repeatedly turn steals in to easy transition buckets. 6'11 Mizzou-transfer Stefan Jankovic has simply exploded on to the scene (no-Volcanic pun intended) since the beginning of Big West play. See below for his Kenpom.com full-season and conference-only splits:
- Wisconsin: This is Bo Ryan watching his evil scheme of getting Greg Gard the full-time job at Wisconsin work to perfection. No further analysis is necessary ...
- St. Joe's: The Philadelphia Hawks are probably the biggest surprise of the A-10 conference to date (3MW condolences to Dayton & St. Bonaventure). All the preseason talk about Phil Martelli's squad centered around 6'6 NBA prospect DeAndre' Bembry, but he may not even be the best prospect on his own team at this point... Bembry's teammate, Isaiah Miles, is making a legitimate case for most improved player of the year, both in the A-10 and nationally. At 6'7, 216-pounds, it's hard to find another player of his size with a more well-rounded and efficient game. See below for his Kenpom.com full-season and conference-only splits:
Anddddd now the squads who may have put your kid's college fund in severe jeopardy ...
Some observations about teams that have been single-handedly destroying your 401(k) since the beginning of conference play:
- Drake: A few weeks back, Drake & Bradley were in a dead heat for the worst team in the Missouri Valley Conference. While the advanced numbers would give the slight nod to Bradley for this honor, it is Drake who sits comfortably alone in the cellar of the MVC with only one league win.
- Auburn: I can only assume Bruce Pearl envisioned his 2nd year at Auburn going a little differently. His SEC tourney run last year, coupled with some recruiting buzz and standard "Bruce-a-thon" marketing tactics in the off-season, were reasons many were optimistic about Auburn basketball entering the 2015-2016 season (for the record, 3MW was NOT optimistic) . This crescendo of hype peaked on January 20th, after the Tigers rattled off back-to-back home wins against Kentucky and arch-rival Alabama. Since then, War Eagle has gone 1-8 in league play, bringing them to a 4-10 record overall in the SEC. Bruce has started to show signs of desperation, experimenting with 6'7 250-pound Cinmeon Bowers at point guard. I think most would agree that Bowers is NOT your prototypical point-guard (him below):
- Richmond: Coming in to the year, I was a large fan of Richmond's returning core players, specifically the front-line of Terry Allen and TJ Cline. Both are versatile 6'8 forwards, that are capable of stepping away from the basket and driving from the perimeter. However, most position-less players (I prefer the term "Tweener") who create a mismatch on offense, also tend to create an adverse mismatch, or "counter-mismatch", on defense. Head coach Chris Mooney is slowly realizing this trade-off is having a more polarizing effect than he probably initially anticipated. The Spiders are currently the nation's 24th best offensive team, but are ranked an abysmal 243rd on defense. While Allen has at-least proven to be a competent rebounder, Cline, and other 6'8 big Marshall Wood, have shown to be major defensive liabilities, both on the glass and protecting the rim.
Stay tuned for next week's edition of "Gamblers Anonymous", as well as another Green Magic update. I believe I said daily plays would resume "soon" last week, so continue to refresh your twitter feeds constantly over the next few days, to ensure you don't miss the re-launch post (@_3MW_). Your patience and support is destined to be rewarded ...