Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:30 PM EST
Evansville/UT MARTIN over 142½ -110
7:00 PM EST. Evansville is 0-2. They scored 44 points against Louisville in a 79-44 loss and then they lost to Prairie View, 64-61. Because of two low outputs, we get a very beatable number here. Evansville is not the focus here but the good news is that the Purple Aces have been winless for a while. They lost 19 straight to end the year last season so it’s been a long, long time since they put up a W. Surely they see an opportunity for a win. The point is, they figure to show up and play.
The UT Martin Skyhawks ranked 353rd in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (AdjDE), surrendering the worst oppFG% in the country and the 6th-worst defensive rebound rate. Foes shot 59.1% from inside the arc (352nd nationally) and 39.2% from beyond it (also 352nd), per KenPom. Included in the 2P% number: opponents shot a staggering 70.9% at the rim (353rd), per Hoop Math. That’s screaming “we do not guard anyone” UT Martin’s AdjDE was 122.9. Gonzaga, the best offense in the country, had an AdjOE of 121.3. In a creative way of thinking, that means “Team Playing UT Martin” had the best offense in the country. We sometimes talk about bad shooting luck and regression to the mean. But if every shot is wide open and opponents feel like they’re playing against air, then it turns out a lot of shots will go in.
This season, UT Martin loseas five players, returns three and adds a slew of JUCO (Junior College) players. The offense should be formidable, but frantically covering the gaping defensive holes with JUCO duct tape is a shaky fix at best. It would be hard for the Skyhawks’ defense to be that bad again, but even a marked improvement (say, to 2018-19 levels) likely leaves UT Martin with a bottom 15 unit nationally. Until those issues are solved, both in the paint and on the perimeter, UT Martin’s ceiling is probably a fun team who will play a bunch of shootouts and occasionally win a couple when Parker Stewart is scalding hot from outside. However, because Evansville has a Butler-like approach, we get a very beatable number here. Even really bad teams like to have fun so don’t be surprised if this has the look of a schoolyard pick-up game.
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Evansville/UT Martin o142½ -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)