Auburn & Aztecs Will Each Have 'A' Game Ready For Tuesday

Monday, February 4, 2019 9:19 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 4, 2019 9:19 PM UTC

For Tuesday's college basketball picks, let's analyze the Florida-Auburn and San Diego State-New Mexico games. Florida on the road and New Mexico at home should be on every bettor's fade list.

Florida (12-9 SU, 9-12 ATS) at Auburn (15-6 SU, 10-9-1 ATS)Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET (ESPNU)Free NCAAB Pick: Tigers ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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The Gators are 0-4 ATS in their last four games because they have serious issues on both offense and defense. On offense, they are inconsistent because they are too young and too reliant on shooting three-pointers. They start three freshmen and they are still learning how to win in conference play.

More importantly, they attempt three-pointers at the highest rate in the SEC. They rank last in the conference at two-point percentage. They lack size inside with nobody taller than 6-9. Center Kevarrius Hayes lacks any skill with the ball, which is why he has a high turnover rate. Power forward Keyontae Johnson converts only 42.9% of his two-point attempts and fellow big man Jalen Hudson has been even more disappointing. Although he's by far Florida's biggest shot-taker in terms of percentage of shots taken when he's on the court, Hudson is shooting only 33.3% inside the arc. On Saturday, when Florida in transition had numbers on Kentucky inside, they still chose to attempt threes.

For these reasons, Florida's offense is streaky, meaning that it will endure long stretches in which it does not score. On Saturday, Florida had an 11-point lead on Kentucky in the second half, but scored only 12 points in the final 12:52. Against Ole Miss, they scored nine points in the game's first 10 minutes. Against Texas A&M, they scored 12 points in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Finally, they failed to cover against TCU after scoring three points in the first 10 minutes. In that game, their tendency to stand around on offense and watch teammates try to be productive was evident. Florida's offense never gives a good effort for even close to 40 minutes.

Florida has a strong defense. But the team's lack of depth, exacerbated by the injury to big Keith Stone combined with the offense's lack of productivity, makes it hard to hold offenses in check. Tennessee and Kentucky, for example, scored 25 and 26 points, respectively, in their final 10 minutes against a gassed Florida. Auburn's prolific offense might not even need 30 minutes to wear down Florida, which will struggle to slow down the Tigers. The Tigers have eclipsed 80 points in six of eight conference games. They have the SEC's top three-point shooting team in terms of percentage with studs such as Jared Harper and Bryce Brown who regularly knock down deep and contested threes. They along with Malik Dunbar and Samir Doughty rank top-400 in three-point efficiency.

It's especially difficult to guard Harper closely because of his blow-by ability and quickness to the basket, because of which he draws 4.4 fouls per 40 minutes despite his lack of size. Auburn also has an inside game with three bigs who rank top-200 in two-point efficiency. Florida's defense will be stretched trying to sag to protect passing lanes while attempting to contest Auburn's perimeter game. The Gators will also notice their lack of depth, trying to keep up with Auburn's above-average number of screens, cuts, other motions, and overall tempo.

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San Diego State (13-8 SU, 10-10 ATS) at New Mexico (9-12 SU, 7-13 ATS)Tuesday, 11 p.m. ET (ESPN2)Free NCAAB Pick: Aztecs ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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A crowd can help its home team play better by inspiring it. This happens in New Mexico on Saturdays, as opposed to during the week, when the crowd's energy is greater and when the Lobos have beaten highly-ranked Nevada, crushed Wyoming, and covered and nearly beat Utah State. The Lobos are 3-5 ATS in their last eight games with all three covers coming at home on Saturday.

Only inspiration seems to help New Mexico play like a team. Generally, the Lobos heave threes at one of the nation's highest rates and have one of the Mountain West's lowest assist rates. They rank eighth in the conference in three-point percentage. Their biggest shot-taker is Vance Jackson, who doesn't care how bad his shooting is. He went 1-for-11 from three in New Mexico's last game and is 7-for-37 (18.9%) from three in his last five games. The Aztecs like to play zone and will easily tempt New Mexico to keep shooting and bricking threes.

The effort for New Mexico is also lacking on the boards. The Lobos rank ninth in the conference in defensive rebound percentage. They often allow their opponent to accrue second-chance opportunities, which helped San Diego State score 97 points and win by 20 points when the teams first met on January 15. In their last game, the Lobos were out-rebounded by smaller Fresno State.

On defense, New Mexico allows the conference's second-highest point distribution inside. Part of that is their high turnover rate, which is why, for example, their point guards are by committee. The Aztecs have a lot of length on defense and active hands, with which they will turn New Mexico over often. San Diego State has a reliable senior point guard in Devin Watson, who has the 101st-highest assist rate and is better at avoiding turnovers. The Aztecs love to run up the court and New Mexico's three-point bricks and turnovers will give them ample opportunity.

Another reason I like the Aztecs on the NCAAB odds board is they have a number of guys who draw a high rate of fouls and they convert free throws at the Mountain West's highest rate. SDSU dominated New Mexico inside with 60.9 two-point percentage. Big man Jalen McDaniels has been too physical and athletic for conference opponents. With his moves from behind the free-throw line and in front of the rim, he's averaging close to 20 points in his last five games, scored 24 against the Lobos, and the attention that bigs like him absorb help SDSU develop an inside-out game. They like to spread shooters along the perimeter where Watson, whose shooting efficiency has skyrocketed in the past two seasons, will hurt them.

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