Top-10 teams in The Associated Press rankings continue to flame out on the road against unranked opponents, with at least one falling away from home every week since the start of December.
We saw it earlier in the week when Kansas lost in overtime to Kansas State. And Saturday, there’s a chance we could see another in College Station.
No. 6 Tennessee at Texas A&M
I’ve circled Tennessee as another potential upset victim because the Vols are entering a sleepy portion of their schedule.
After securing a signature win against Kentucky a week ago, complete with a nearly flawless performance on the offensive end, UT enters a soft part of its SEC schedule, with games against A&M, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Mizzou over the next two weeks.
I would forgive Rick Barnes and his troops if they weren’t fired up to face that group of underachievers.
Speaking of underachieving, Haslametrics rates Texas A&M as the “least consistent” program in the SEC this season. But that variance cuts both ways.
When the Aggies have played well, they’ve upset Kentucky at home and nearly knocked off Houston on a neutral floor. They have demonstrated a very high ceiling.
When you buy the Aggies, you’re getting a front-row seat to three things:
Second-chance buckets: The Aggies are corralling 43% of their offensive rebounding opportunities.
That number is so absurdly high that it would be the highest rebounding rate since 2011 if it holds for the season.
That helps A&M counterbalance its shooting deficiencies from the perimeter (26.6% 3PT, 357th).
A ticket to the Wade Taylor IV show: The dynamic point guard has four games of 30-plus points in the past two months. When he’s cooking, A&M’s offense is capable of outscoring any team.
The Aggies have won five of their last seven games straight up, and during that run he’s turned it over fewer than two times per game.
His trustworthiness with the ball will be critical against a UT defense that forces more than 13 turnovers per game.
Improved play of Tyrece “Boots” Radford: The wing was phenomenal in a five-point victory over Kentucky last month (28 points), and last Saturday he knocked down the game-winning shot against Florida.
His ability to get tough buckets inside will come in handy against a Tennessee defense that is stout inside the arc (43.4%, 8th).
Recommendation: Texas A&M +4.5.
Colgate at Loyola Maryland
The Greyhounds homecourt “advantage” is rated 352nd by Evan Miya, and that might be generous.
Loyola is 0-8 ATS on its home floor this season and has been the worst-performing home team in the Patriot League going back three years.
So why is this number only 10 against the class of the conference? A dead-cat bounce.
Betting on College Basketball?
The Greyhounds knocked off 8-14 Navy two weeks ago to stop a four-game skid. And then they upset American on the road in their last game.
But that win was a complete fluke. In fact, Loyola became the first team this season to beat an opponent while shooting worse than 30% from the floor (15-for-51).
Loyola is easily one of the worst offensive teams in the country.
The Hounds can’t shoot (308th in shooting efficiency), they always waste opportunities at the line (348th) and they turn the ball over as much as any team in the Patriot League (333rd).
Against a formidable Colgate defense, one that is top 50 in opponent shooting efficiency, none of those things is likely to change.
I would play this up to Colgate -13.5.
Recommendation: Colgate -10.