An imposing mid-major team in Marshall will be heading to Greensboro tonight to take on the UNCG Spartans. We’ll preview the action and then get into my best bet.
The unpredictability of college basketball has been on full display with this UNCG Spartans team this season. The Spartans enter tonight with a 4-6 record and have suffered two losses in games where they were favored over North Carolina A&T and Hofstra. However, in their most recent game, UNCG took the Arkansas Razorbacks to the wire and lost by only seven points despite leading at halftime.
Offensively the Spartans have yet to put it together, as they have just a 97.9 offensive efficiency rating on KenPom, which is 272nd in the country. Keondre Kennedy leads UNCG in scoring with 13.9 points per game, but as a team, the Spartans are shooting just 30.5% from three and have an effective field goal percentage of 44.9%.
UNCG has primarily relied on their defense to keep them in games, as their defensive pressure has led to an 18.4% turnover percentage from their opponents. This swarming defense makes the Spartans 89th in the country in defensive efficiency on KenPom. They will have their work cut for them tonight against a high-powered Marshall offense.
The Thundering Herd are averaging 82.1 points per game and are sixth in the country in both assists and rebounds per game. It’s hard to find a flaw with the Marshall offense, I mean, they are shooting 47.3% from the field and make the second most field goals per game in the country.
A big reason for Marshall’s 9-1 start to the season, and offensive efficiency is Taevion Kinsey, who leads the team in scoring with 20.9 points per game. Kinsey is also the defensive anchor for this team averaging 2.3 steals per game and helping Marshall force an average of 15.4 turnovers per game.
Marshall sits as -3.5 point road favorites, and they are who I’m backing in this one. I don’t think Marshall is getting enough respect with this number; regardless of UNCG’s last game against Arkansas, the Thundering Herd have put together a solid and consistent start to the season.
This Marshall team plays at a pace most teams are not used to, as the Thundering Herd runs at the 15th-highest tempo in the country, according to KenPom. The fast tempo would explain how they average 40.3 points per game in the first half, which is 14th in the country.
UNCG’s tempo ranks 233rd on KenPom, so forcing them to play at a fast pace will cause a lot of turnovers, which has already been a problem for this Spartans team this season.
Marshall also has the advantage on the glass, as they average 12.7 offensive rebounds per game and the Spartans have a defensive rebounding percentage of 74.6%. Between the fast pace and rebounding advantages. Marshall should control this game from beginning to end.