Defense The Motor For Illinois And San Francisco Covers On Thursday

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 12:09 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 12:09 PM UTC

After digging through Thursday's betting card, I decided to break down Illinois-Ohio State and Pepperdine-San Francisco. Illinois could pull off an upset, but San Francisco will shut down Pepperdine.

<h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" target="_blank" title="Game Odds">Illinois (9-15 SU, 10-14 ATS) at Ohio State (16-7 SU, 10-13 ATS)</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center">When: 7 p.m. ET (ESPN 2)</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Free NCAAB Pick: Fighting Illini ATS</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Best Line Offered: <a href=";book=BetOnline" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Top Rated Sportsbook!">BetOnline</a></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3638903, "sportsbooksIds":[238,93,1096,999996,169], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>The main problem with Ohio State is its proclivity to commit turnovers. The Buckeyes rank last in the Big Ten both in rate of turnovers allowed and of steals allowed. <a href="" target="_blank" title="Live College Basketball Odds Board">Buckeye turnovers have contributed significantly to its 3-7 ATS run</a>. For example, against Penn State, the Buckeyes led 28-13. Then, PSU's defense augmented its aggression, which led OSU to commit 18 turnovers and to almost lose as the clear favorite.</p><p>OSU's issues begin with its point guard. CJ Jackson has committed at least three turnovers in seven different Big Ten games. Illinois is trained to exploit OSU's weakness. The Ilini apply a lot of on-the-ball pressure, which they can do because they rotate an above-average number of players in order to stay fresh. They have active hands and otherwise harass opposing dribblers and they aggressively close passing lanes. Scroll to 45 seconds in the video for an example:</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;iframe width=\"560\" height=\"315\" src=\"\" frameborder=\"0\" allow=\"accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture\" allowfullscreen&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt;"}[/]</p><p>While a Michigan State guard is pushing the ball down the court, Illinois guard Trent Frazier is watching his eyes while staying in front of his own man. He reads the Spartan's pass, intercepts it, and knocks down an open three. Illinois upset Michigan State because it sped up its guards, making them do things they normally wouldn't do and otherwise exhibit discomfort as opposed to rhythm. Illinois forced 24 turnovers in that victory. In conference play, its defense ranks first in rate of turnovers forced and of steals accumulated.</p><p>Another advantage that Illinois' defense possesses is its style. It likes to guard the perimeter closely. which is why it allows the fifth-lowest rate of threes attempted. This focus is important because Ohio State has the second-highest point distribution of three-pointers in the conference. The Illini will not allow much room for OSU's three-point shooters.</p><p>For Illinois' offense, center Giorgi Bezhanishvili has been playing well, scoring 51 points in his past two games. He draws almost five fouls per game, which is especially important because his Buckeye counterpart, Kaleb Wesson, is very prone to fouling out and his absence would hurt Ohio State on both offense and defense.</p><p>Ohio State's perimeter defense isn't as sturdy in terms of rate of attempted threes allowed. OSU is particularly susceptible to conceding threes in transition, which means that OSU defenders track the ball-handler well, but lose sight of his teammates and don't communicate well as to who will guard whom. Trent Frazier is converting 41.2% of his threes and averaging four made threes over his last four games. When Illinois lost to Ohio State 77-67 in a semi-home game on December 5, Frazier and Bezhanishvili were limited minute- and performance-wise by foul trouble. <a href="" target="_blank" title="More College Basketball Picks">Their presence on the court will be pivotal to an Illinois cover</a>.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;iframe width=\"560\" height=\"315\" src=\"\" frameborder=\"0\" allow=\"accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture\" allowfullscreen&gt;&lt;/iframe&gt;"}[/]</p><h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" target="_blank" title="Game Odds">Pepperdine (12-13 SU, 14-9 ATS) at San Francisco (18-6 SU, 10-10-3 ATS)</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center">When: 10 p.m. ET</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Free NCAAB Pick: Dons ATS</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Best Lines Offered: <a href=";book=BetOnline" rel="nofollow" target="_blank" title="Top Rated Sportsbook!">BetOnline</a></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3642376, "sportsbooksIds":[238,93,1096,999996,169], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>When San Francisco played Pepperdine on January 5, the Dons barely won and failed to cover, despite outscoring them by eight points in the second half. They were in a classically tough situation called the "let-down" spot. The Dons were riding an emotional high after a tight victory on national television against Saint Mary's and, after the first half against Pepperdine, they needed to regroup in the locker room and regain focus. Because this game ended up being close, the Dons will be sure to take Pepperdine seriously.</p><p>The match-up suits San Francisco. Pepperdine is a small team, ranking 275th in height. As a result, it ranks last in the conference in point distribution from inside the arc. It only likes to score inside when in transition. Pepperdine likes to push the ball up the court and drive to the basket before the opposing bigs arrive. The Waves' transition game depends mostly on steals. San Francisco, however, has been throughout the year one of the nation's most ball-secure teams. It ranks third in the conference in rate of turnovers allowed.</p><p>Frankie Ferrari runs San Fran's offense. He's one of the WCC's top point guards as evident in his solid assist-to-turnover ratio. Ferrari's biggest asset is his vision, his ability to drive to the basket in order to force the defense to collapse upon him and still be able to locate teammates behind the perimeter. He consistently throws them a pass that they can easily catch so that they can quickly shoot. Ferrari also dribbles through defenders and, in drawing defenders to him, hooks a quick pass to a big in front of the rim.</p><p>The Waves attempt the highest rate of threes in the WCC and have the highest point distribution from three. The Dons, though, pay close attention to the perimeter. They allow the lowest rate of attempted threes and the lowest point distribution from three. The Dons pay close man-to-man defense. They don't take risks--they don't go for steals or otherwise try to generate turnovers. Their aim is to keep their man in front of them. Length is a big help to the Dons' perimeter defense. They rank 87th in height, which helps them more easily reach opposing shooters.</p><p>On offense, the Dons can bully Pepperdine inside. Interior scoring will help San Francisco even if it has an off-night from behind the arc, despite becoming a much better three-point shooting team during conference play and ranking third in the WCC in three-point percentage. Nate Renfro is converting 59 percent of his two-pointers in his last three games. Jimbo Lull and Matt McCarthy are two of the nation's more efficient scorers inside. They will tower over Pepperdine's defenders in height and typically in size and exploit their last-ranked interior defense.</p>
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