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Tuesday Morning Handicapper
by Hollywood Sports - 02/04/2014
Frank Sawyer's Hollywood Sports basketball and hockey tips and observations from over the last week that may inform my decision-making in the NBA, NHL and College Basketball.
POST-SUPER BOWL THOUGHTS.
The Seahawks decisive win makes teams playing in the Super Bowl with the NFL's top-rated defense a decisive 13-3 straight up. While the rule changes continue to favor promoting offensive production, the old axiom that good defenses defeat good offenses still seems to the norm. The other striking conclusion to gain from that blowout was a thought lingering in the back of mind as I made my final decision to take Seattle late in the week: the NFC was significantly better than the AFC this season. Commentary that the Broncos "did not show up" or that Denver was outcoached are nonsense. The Seahawks were just plain better.
NEW MEXICO HAS STEPPED UP THEIR OFFENSIVE EFFICIENCY
The Lobos' last loss was on January 15th against UNLV. Since that setback, New Mexico enters the week scoring at a sweltering 1.20 Points-Per-Possession against conference opponents. For comparisons sake, the only teams that are scoring at a 1.20 or better PPP rate in conference play this season are Duke (1.21 PPP), Creighton (1.20 PPP) and Northern Iowa (1.20 PPP).
OREGON STATE UNCANNY FROM 3-POINT LAND … SO FAR …
Since Pac-12 play has begun, Oregon State is nailing 47% of their shots from behind the 3-point line. College basketball metrics guru John Gasaway can only recount four teams representing a major conference over the last few years that have finished conference play with at least a 42.7% shooting clip from downtown. Of course, the Beavers still have half their conference schedule to face -- and they are only 2-5 in the Pac-12 entering the week.
DUQUESNE'S 3-POINT DEFENSE IS DREADFUL
The Dukes are seeing their Atlantic 10 opponents nail a whopping 46% of their 3-pointers in conference play entering the week so far this season. And these opponents are not be stingy with their shots since 44% of their field goal attempts are from behind the arc. As long as these trends continue, Duquesne is probably unplayable either on the road or against teams that are proficient shooting the long ball.
MICHIGAN HEAD COACH JOHN BEILEIN IS VASTLY UNDERRATED
After blowing a lead with five minutes to go at home against Arizona, the Wolverines have rattled off an 11-1 hot streak with that started on a neutral court against Stanford and includes a win on the road against Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, it is time to take notice of the fantastic job head coach John Beilein is doing in Ann Arbor. Not only did he lost two first round draft choices in Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. from last season's NCAA Championship runner-up squad, but preseason All-American Mitch McGary is out the season with a back injury. Shooting guard Nic Stauskas has proven he can create his own shot without Burke at point guard as he is averaging 17.3 PPG while coming out of nowhere to become a legitimate first team All-American candidate. But it has been the development of Glenn Robinson III that keys this team being a threat to make a deep run in March. Robinson's play stepped up during that stretch -- but he scored only 26 combined points over a recent three-game stretch which included their lone loss over that span in Bloomington against Indiana. However, Robinson poured in 23 points against Nebraska this week which is a very good sign for the Wolverines moving forward.
Best of luck for us -- Frank.