Duquesne at VCU -8.5 O/U 145.5
Going to take the contrarian side here in this contest based on the style change at Duquesne under first year HC Keith Dambrot. The former Akron head coach has brought tortoise type pace and stingy defense to Pittsburgh which has not been the norm in recent years. KenPom adjusted tempo numbers show the Dukes 315th in the nation averaging just 66 possessions in their games. The shot clock is being tested on both ends with Duquesne holding the ball for 18.8 seconds per possession (322nd) and opponents using an average of 17.8 seconds (297th) on offense. This tempo control system has led the Dukes to records of 12-4 straight up, 5-3 against the spread and 1-7 O/U the total. Tonight’s chore is to keep high energy VCU from speeding up the game and lighting up the scoreboard which isn’t easy considering the Rams are posting 79.5 points per outing.
Virginia Commonwealth has played four teams this season that fall into the ultra-methodical and defensive oriented categories with mixed results. At home versus Virginia they lost 76-67 going over the total, against Michigan in Hawaii they lost 68-60 staying under, they beat Old Dominion 82-75 going well over and then lost a home game to Texas 71-67 producing an under. Those four games saw possession totals 63, 64, 73 and 65 respectively. In the pair of overs, VCU allowed Virginia to shoot 50.8% from the field and ODU 50%. Despite only reaching 138 points and staying under, the Rams gave up 51% to Texas. All three of those teams shot better than 40% from three-point range. Michigan had 47.2 FG% but only 25% from three in their low scoring win.
The statistical numbers through almost half of the season show Duquesne to be a poor shooting team thus far at 42.1% overall with a clamp down defense. However, they’ll be playing the fastest tempo and highest offensive efficiency opponent they’ve faced all season. Even with that, have to believe that either that strong defense or lousy offense will present itself tonight which is enough to keep this game under the ever climbing total now sitting at 145.5.