Hollywood Sports' DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE SPECIAL: Frank Sawyer has CIRCLED a matchup on Thursday between one team that has been OVER-VALUED ALL SEASON now facing a team NOT BEING GIVEN THEIR DUE. Frank's Hollywood Sports has been $$ IN THE BANK with his DOMINANT 47-25 (65%) mark with his NCAA Tournament plays since 2010 -- so GET ON-BOARD this SUPER VALUE SITUATION!
Game: Wisconsin at Syracuse Mar 22 2012 7:15PM
Grade: Loser (-110)
Reason: At 7:15 PM EST on Thursday, we will be playing the Syracuse Orange minus the points versus the Wisconsin Badgers in the Round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Syracuse (33-2) has too quickly discounted as a serious threat to still win the NCAA Tournament after their loss of 7'0" center Fab Melo who was declared academically ineligible for the tournament a week ago. While certainly head coach Jim Boeheim would prefer to have Melo eligible, his absence has been way overplayed by the pundit class. Melo was the Orange's just 6th leading scorer with his 7.8 PPG average. Additionally, while Melo was Syracuse's leading rebounder, his 5.8 RPG average can certainly be replaced by others. Melo's biggest impact was on the defensive end of the court where his seven-foot frame provided a shot-blocking presence in the middle of the Orange's vaunted 2-3 defense. But it is safe to say that Boeheim has seen dominant 2-3 defenses in his tenure without a shot-blocking big man in the middle. This remains a very talented -- and very deep -- Syracuse team that has many players that are ready to take Melo's minutes on the court. After struggling to get by an talented and upstart UNC-Asheville team, the Orange looked more like themselves in their 72-59 win over Kansas State in a game where they shot 51.1% from the field while holding the Wildcats to a mere 31.3% field goal percentage. Freshman Rakeem Christmas seized the opportunity Melo's suspension offered by scoring 8 points while pulling down 11 rebounds and blocking a Melo-like 3 shots against Kansas State. At this point, it is safe to say that the Orange's loss of Melo has been a bit overblown -- and we are getting point spread value now because of it. Sophomore Dion Waiters is stepping up his game as well by coming off the bench to nail 56% of his shots -- and 56% of his 3s -- so far in the NCAA Tournament. This team is loaded. And Syracuse has covered the point spread in 11 of their last 16 games against teams outside the Big East who may not be as familiar with the Boeheim version of the 2-3 zone defense.
Wisconsin (26-9) comes off a 60-57 win versus Vanderbilt -- but they have failed to cover the point spread in 7 of their last 10 games following a straight-up victory. Bo Ryan's teams have underachieved in the NCAA Tournament in the last few years -- but usually those games are against upstart mid-majors. Perhaps facing one of the elite teams in college basketball will present Ryan's team a more compelling challenge? Or perhaps the problem lies elsewhere. The computers love the stats that Wisconsin puts up -- and that helps pull this line down since Las Vegas uses those numbers. But these overall "power" numbers do not correlate with a team that only managed a net Efficiency Margin of +0.06 Points-Per-Possession (Offensive PPP: 1.03; Defensive PPP: 0.97) versus Big Ten competition. That metric is just above Michigan's net Efficiency Margin of +0.05 PPP in conference play to place them third in the Big Ten and is far off from Ohio State and Michigan State's net Efficiency Margin of +0.17 PPP and +0.16 PPP respectively. The Wolverines would be an underdog of double the points the Badgers are currently getting -- which makes us not believe the hype here. Additionally, Wisconsin is a team that performs much better at home where they enjoyed a 14-4 record. However, on the road, this supposed efficient offense shoots only 40.7% from the field to produce a 7-4 record with an average winning margin of +1.7 PPG. In theory, this is a "strength versus strength matchup" as the Syracuse zone will only further entice this Badgers' team to shoot more 3-point shots beyond their "bombs-away" mentality that has seen them put up 47% of their shots from behind the arc in their last four games. But seeing a bunch of 3s is nothing new for a Boeheim defense -- there is a reason that the Orange are seeing their opponents nail only 30.7% of these shots from behind the arc (28th in the nation). Furthermore, the vulnerability with this Syracuse team is that they allow their opponents to pull down 39.3% of their missed shots (4th worst in the nation). But because the Badgers like to put their big guys on the outside to shoot more 3s, they are not equipped to take advantage of the offensive boards. Wisconsin pulls down only 30.7% of their missed shots (yes, that is the exact same number as Syracuse's 3-point defense in my notes) which is only 224th in the nation. Ultimately, these look like two teams that are harboring impressions in the conventional wisdom that do not match our read on things. Lastly, Syracuse is supported by an empirical angle that has been 68% effective over the last five seasons. In games played on a neutral court, favorites or pick 'ems averaging 74-78 PPG (Syracuse: 74.5 PPG) who come off at least one straight win and now faces a team that scores 63-67 PPG (Wisconsin: 64.0 PPG) have then covered the point spread in 30 of the last 44 situations where these conditions applied. 20* CBB Don't Believe the Hype Special with the Syracuse Orange minus the points versus the Wisconsin Badgers. Best of luck for us -- Frank.