High-Flyers Buffalo, Rider Favorites Friday ... Are They Worth Plays?

Jay Pryce

Friday, January 26, 2018 1:53 PM UTC

Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 1:53 PM UTC

If you like run-and-gun basketball, try and get a glimpse of high-flying Buffalo and Rider on Friday night in their respective matchups against Ohio and Saint Peter’s. If you like winning picks, click here.

Buffalo (-7) at Ohio

MAC coaches and News Media Panel determined Ohio (9-10 SU, 5-7 ATS) is the best East Division program to challenge Buffalo (15-5 SU, 11-5 ATS) for the league’s top spot in the 2017-2018 campaign, garnering the most first-place votes (3) behind the Bulls (24) in the preseason poll. An injury to all-conference forward Jason Carter tempered these expectations quickly. The sophomore, who is out indefinitely rehabbing from a broken foot, has suited up just three times all season. Without Carter, Ohio is just 3-8 SU and 3-6-2 ATS in games listed on the NCAAB oddsboard in 2017.

The Bulls, meanwhile, are stampeding over MAC competition. They are 7-0 SU and 6-0-1 ATS, winning each game by double digits. They entered conference play 8-5 SU, but owned the ninth-toughest schedule nationally at the time. Fourth-year Bobcats head coach Saul Phillips told a reporter Buffalo is “as good on tape as any team I’ve seen in the MAC since I’ve been here.”

This bunch is high-octane fun. Buffalo plays at the 13th-fastest tempo in the nation, averaging 88.3 points per game on 49.0 percent shooting in conference play. Junior guard CJ Massinburg and junior forward Nick Perkins do most of the damage, putting up 18.6 and 16.2 points per game, respectively. They rank in the top seven among conference peers in scoring.

Buffalo has put up at least 82 points in every MAC matchup this season. The Bobcats are the quickest opponent yet, ranking 81st in pace per KenPom. Phillips would like his team to slow down, but have been caught chasing a lead too often. Expect more of the same here. The Bulls take 30.1 percent of their shots in transition, the 10th-highest rate in the country. They force you to run.

Since Nate Oats took over the program in 2015, the ‘over’ is 6-1 when the Bulls tip off away chalk in conference matchups. Put your money on ‘over’ 158 here.

Free NCAAB Pick: Over 158Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Check out what SBR's Pete Loshak and handicapper Joe Gavazzi have to say about the game here:

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Saint Peter’s at Rider (-6.5)

Since 2010, Saint Peter’s (8-11 SU, 5-9 ATS) is just 5-23 SU (14-14 ATS) on the road in Metro Atlantic Athletic play vs. opponents with a winning record. Two of these rare victories have come against Rider (14-7 SU, 11-5 ATS). The Peacocks, in fact, have taken four of the last six meetings, including both as underdogs. Defense is the key.

Head coach John Dunne, his 11th year in charge, is a shot-stopping technician. He slows the game to crawl and stuffs the paint with bodies, disrupting free-flowing teams like the Broncs and forcing inefficient shots. Saint Peter’s ranks 334 out 351 teams in tempo and allows just 21.0 percent of 2-point jumpers. In the last six matchups, the Peacocks have held Rider to 66.7 points per game. The Broncs average 72.7 against all other MAAC opponents in this span.

These two clashed just 12 days ago at Yanitelli Center, the Broncs winning a barn-burner 88-84 as 3.5-point underdogs. The game was an outright anomaly, both teams shooting 52.5 percent or better from the floor. It’s hard to justify a nearly 10-point swing on the line here in such little time due to home-court advantage alone. These two are closer than that, and picked side by side to finish seventh and eighth in the MAAC preseason poll respectively. Lean low (144) and take the points with the Peacocks (+6.5).

Free NCAAB Pick: Saint Peter'sBest Line Offered: Heritage

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