TCU vs Utah, 9:00pm ET
The Horned Frogs are not who we thought they were, at least not to start the season. TCU has struggled mightily with injuries and with some surprisingly close results despite being 9-1 (5-5 ATS). TCU dipped to 55 in Ken Pom after starting the season in the top 20 and fancied by many as a sneaky Final Four pick. Tonight sets up for a breakout performance with the return of some key pieces to full health, though. The reappearances of Eddie Lumpkin at center, Baugh at guard, and preseason Big 12 POY, Mike Miles, being 100% will certainly change the fortunes of the squad. On the other hand, Utah comes into this matchup feeling great about themselves. No one projected them to be as good as they’ve been and Head Coach Craig Smith is to credit for that. Big wins vs Arizona and Washington State have vaulted them into the top 50 and a tournament bid is not out of the question.
The health of the Horned Frogs cannot be understated. Just with Baugh back in the lineup they’ve been noticeably better, winning all 4 games and going 3-1 ATS over the past 4. With Lumpkin on the floor, they are .42 PPP (points per possession) better. This offense should start to thrive as there is massive positive regression lurking as they are #1 in shot selection but just 339th in shot making. With the return of key cogs like the aforementioned 3, the offense will be much better. In terms of some positive matchups for the Horned Frogs tonight, they should thrive in transition as a top 50 team in the nation there vs a Utes defense that is a bit vulnerable, ranking in the bottom 100 there. They should also thrive on the boards, ranking nearly top 20 in the nation in OReb % vs a Utes team that ranks 110th. Utah’s defense is also due for some negative regression from the FT line and 3pt line, as both are bottom 50 against them and that is just not sustainable.
On the offensive end, Utah is in a bit of trouble tonight and for the foreseeable future. With virtually the same team as last, they are shooting much better from beyond the arc, which will inevitably go down over the course of the season. They also are facing a defense in TCU that forces teams to play iso ball and you need elite shot creators, which the Utes do not have.
For me, TCU +1.5 is a great spot for the Horned Frogs tonight. Happy to take this up to a PK.
This is an article written by Pat Taylor
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