I see a line in the Southern Conference tonight that I believe is way off.
Samford @ Wofford
Samford is catching 12.5/12 across the board and I think that is way too many points in this one.
We all know Wofford. They are consistently a great three-point shooting team and often give Power Five programs a run for their money. While coach Mike Young has another great team this year, they have slowed things down just a bit. Their three-point percentage dropped two percentage points, which brought them from a Top 10 three-point shooting team to the 28th ranked three-point shooting team. Still elite in that field, but definitely a dip in production from last year. This is mostly due to the absence of Trevor Stumpe so far this season, who went down in November with a back injury. Trevor was a 42.5% three-point shooter last season, so the Terriers have had one less scorer to work with this season.
Samford has been dreadful on defense under coach Scott Padgett, but this season, things have been different. Coach Padgett was able to bring in two big transfers that have helped the team tremendously, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
Ruben Guerrero sat out last season after playing three seasons at USF. Now, the 7’0”, 240-pound center plays almost 30 minutes per game for the Bulldogs. He averages 14.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game, all while shooting 59.3% from the field and 66.7% from the stripe. Not an amazing FT%, but better than a lot of big men that you will find in college basketball.
The second transfer, Brandon Austin, played two years at Alabama before sitting out last season due to the NCAA transfer policy. So far this season, Brandon averages 12.9 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 steal per game, while playing an average of 30.9 minutes and shooting 43.7% from three-point range. In summary, the Bulldogs have added 27.1 points, 13.4 rebounds, a little over 2 blocks, and 1 steal per game with these two transfers.
The additions of Guerrero and Austin are great, but how does that translate to the hardwood? And in particular, this match-up?
Well, the additions of Guerrero and Austin to an already great shooting team created an effective inside-out dynamic for the Bulldogs this season. Samford shot 37.2% from three point range last season and that average jumped up to 39.4%, which ranks 14th overall. Because Guerrero demands so much attention down low, the Bulldogs are able to get open shots at a higher rate on the perimeter. The rest of their offense has been slightly above average this season, but most notably, their defense dramatically improved.
Last season, Samford ranked 349th in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom. They allowed opponents to shoot 58.3% from inside the arc and 38% outside of the arc. They were a poor rebounding team, and rarely blocked shots.
This season, thanks in large part to Guerrero, the Bulldogs allow their opponents to shoot an average of only 46.6% from inside the arc and 33.4% outside of the arc. Their opponents’ effective field goal percentage dropped from 57.7% all the way to 48%. They are rebounding at a higher rate (obviously), and they are blocking shots 9.3% of the time, which is right around the league average, and up almost 2% from last year. You can see that this is a completely different team on defense this year.
Wofford, surprisingly, is not the most efficient offense in the conference, as that title belongs to Mercer. However, Wofford is the second most efficient offense in the conference and Samford is the third. Wofford ranks first in three-point percentage in the conference and Samford ranks second, while Wofford ranks second in free throw percentage and Samford ranks fourth.
My point is that Samford has the ability to stay close to Wofford in this game. In fact, it is common for Wofford to struggle with teams that can match them in shooting. In six games against teams that rank in the top 125 in three-point percentage, Wofford has only covered 12 once – against Western Carolina who shot 6-23 from three in that game. The other games include an 11-point win against Coastal, a 5-point win against Furman, and double digit losses to UNC, Mississippi State, and Kansas.
On the other side of the floor, Samford should be able to at least limit the number of open opportunities that Wofford gets. The Bulldogs rank 132nd overall in three-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot only 33.4%. This is important because Wofford has covered 12 points only once against a team that ranks in the top half of the country in three-point defense. That one victory of over 12 points was that same Western Carolina team. In addition to the games previously mentioned, High Point and Mercer were also able to stay within single digits of Wofford.
While most of their opponents were Power Five teams, Wofford has played against eight teams that rank in the top 100 in defensive effective field goal percentage. They had a margin of victory bigger than 12 in only two of those games, against South Carolina and against ETSU. South Carolina shot 7-25 from three point range and 19-57 overall in that game. They just did not show up. ETSU was out rebounded by Wofford by 13, which ultimately led to a 15+ point loss for them. Samford ranks 72nd in defensive effective field goal percentage, allowing opponents to shoot only 48%.
The Bulldogs have what it takes. They just need to get it done. They have not lost to a single non-Power Five program by double digits this season. The only games that they lost by double digits were the Ohio State game, which they were competitive in but ended up losing by 18, and the Tennessee game, which they lost by 13. Both games were true road games.
In a newfound rivalry series, I think odds makers are giving a little too much respect to Wofford here. In their last 5 meetings, Samford has only won once, but last season was the first time that the Bulldogs have lost to the Terriers by double digits since 2014. I think that changes tonight. I anticipate Ruben Guerrero to make a huge difference in the paint for the Bulldogs, and for Austin to contribute on the perimeter. While Wofford does have some big bodies, I do not think Aluma and Pegram will be able to slow down Guerrero. I expect Wofford’s Cam Jackson to struggle with his inside game because of the presence of Guerrero as well. While he does average just over 3 fouls per game, Guerrero has fouled out only once this season, so I do not foresee that being an issue.
Look for a lot of three point shots in this one, and look for the Bulldogs to work it inside in an attempt to get open perimeter shots, especially if Wofford goes into a zone defense. I think Samford certainly has the tools to win this game outright. Plus, coach Scott Padgett is 5-0 ATS in the last three seasons as a road underdog with five or more days rest.
1-5 ATS L6 as home favorite of 7-12.5 points
3-7 ATS L10 homes games vs team with losing road record
5-10 ATS L15 off home win vs conference rival
8-2 ATS L10 road games
7-1 ATS L8 as underdog
6-1 ATS L7 road games vs team with winning home record
Samford +12.5/12 – win 1.5u
Samford ML +600 – risk 0.5u
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