Hoops Check-in: Traveling North to the Southern Colonies
Tech beat UAB. All is right in the world.
Digging a little deeper than that, there were two things that I suggested would be key for Louisiana Tech if the Bulldogs wanted to continue their home success against the Blazers:
- Win the rebounding battle
- Don’t fall behind early
Tech was able to check both items off their list Thursday night in the 64-53 triumph over UAB. Tech was +2 in rebound differential and led 30-22 at the halfway mark.
One concerning thing on display Thursday was Tech’s free throw shooting. The Bulldogs shot 50% (6-for-12) from the stripe, a new low for the season. The previous low came seven days before – 52% at North Texas.
Not exactly the best trend to see moving forward.
But again, Tech beat UAB. So we can look past a few things.
Middle Tennessee Recap
For only the 4th time this season, Tech scored more in the first half than in the second.
But Tech was also able to expand their lead after halftime: from 6 to the 17 point lead Tech ended the game with. That second half domination can be attributed to one thing: Bulldog defense.
However, if you look at the two typical defensive stats, you’d think Tech had a rough game. Tech only gathered four steals and two blocks Saturday afternoon. Both were the third fewest Tech has had in a game this season.
But one thing the Bulldog defense was able to do was create turnovers. Middle Tennessee turned over the ball 17 times, the fourth most Tech has forced this season.
Even beyond steals, blocks, and turnovers, Tech’s defense was stellar. MTSU was only able to put up 56 points, the second fewest Tech has allowed all year.
Record Probability Chart
Old Dominion Forecast
It’s still far too early to be able to know the final rank of C-USA’s best teams, but we are starting to get an idea of who those best teams are.
As of now, it appears there will be five teams vying for the top four spots in “pod” play: Tech, North Texas, WKU, Marshall, and Old Dominion.
(That list isn’t in any particular order, other than Tech being first. Because Tech is #1 in my heart.)
Two of those schools will meet up in Norfolk, VA on Thursday night in a game that will have large implications when it comes to pod placement in a few weeks.
Spolier alert: The teams are Tech and ODU.
While the Monarchs are roughly a five point favorite, the new NCAA NET rankings have only a five spot difference between the two teams.
Expect a low scoring game as ODU ranks 6th in the nation in fewest points allowed, while ranking 306th in points scored. So if Tech is able to find any offensive success, the Bulldogs might just be able to head to Charlotte with a 4-2 record in league play.
Another week, another tough Thursday opponent and weak Saturday opponent. I showed the top C-USA teams in the above section, but now let’s look at the bottom teams:
Charlotte is not a good team. But this is a road game, and the Bulldogs have proven that anything can happen outside the TAC.
*cough* *cough* Rice
Even so, it’s hard to find anything the 49ers truly excel at. The only stat where Charlotte ranks in the Top 100 is Free Throw percentage. The team makes 76% from the charity stripe, 20th best in the nation.
Combine this with Tech’s inability to shoot free throws, and we better hope this game doesn’t come down to foul shots.
Other Peoples’ Predictions
Massey – ODU wins 67-62
KenPom – ODU wins 67-61
Massey – Tech wins 68-60
KenPom – Tech wins 66-61