This isn’t necessarily my favorite position of the evening, but it is most certainly the most interesting.
Pac-12 Network, (11:00 EDT) Fresno State +14 (at Oregon)
KenPom projects this game Oregon 76-61 (Oregon -15). Of course, KenPom’s projections don’t account for personnel absences, and Oregon’s star stretch four, Chris Boucher, isn’t likely to play this evening due to an ankle injury. Oddly, however, this game opened exactly at the projected KenPom spread of 15. Therefore, the oddsmakers didn’t discount this line at all to account for Boucher’s absence. The sharps quickly pounced, and the line is now down one point to +14.
So, how much does Boucher’s absence actually impact the projected spread?
John Pudner’s “Value Add” website attempts to quantify the impact of each player to his respective team. According to his site, Pudner estimates that Boucher gives a (game tempo adjusted) projected six points tonight. Boucher’s absence detracts from Oregon’s offensive total by an estimated 4.5 points while adding approximately 1.5 points to Fresno State’s projected total. Now, it’s hard to fathom that the oddsmakers failed to adjust for Boucher’s impact on the game by a full six points, but his absence must be worth something, right? It probably falls somewhere about halfway between Pudner’s six-point estimate and the oddsmakers’ ostensible zero-point adjustment.
On a related note, it appears that JC transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams will usurp a majority of Boucher’s available minutes.
According to my personal Power Ratings, Oregon (with Boucher) ranks as follows:
Athleticism: 70% above national average (The Ducks are one of the longest and most athletic teams in the country, and maintain a shot blocking presence even in the absence of Boucher in the form of Jordan Bell. The aforementioned Bigby-Williams is also a capable shot blocker and rim protector).
Skill: 4% above average (If you have watched the Ducks this year, you know just how much this team can struggle when having to play in the half-court.).
B-Ball IQ: 9% above average (not surprising from a Dana Altman coached-team).
Fresno rates as follows:
Athleticism: 25% above national average.
Skill: 5% above average.
B-Ball IQ: 14% below average (an admitted concern this evening).
The Bulldogs do get a nice reinforcement tonight in the form of PF Karachi Edo, who was academically ineligible the first semester. He got his grades up during the fall semester and becomes eligible for the first time tonight. Edo has been practicing with the team, so he hopefully won’t be too rusty. He started at the four for the Fresno NCAA Tournament team last season, and according to the aforementioned “Value Add” website, adds about 3.5 points of value to Fresno when at peak form.
Fresno has been a bit mercurial this year from game-to-game and even half-to-half. This inconsistency was most evident in a recent clash at Marquette that saw the Bulldogs fall behind by 19 at the half only to end up making a huge second-half run and losing by just three.
A Boucher-less Oregon is far from dominant, and if we can get an effort anything close to resembling the second half at Marquette, the addition of Edo should propel Fresno to a comfortable cover. I have the game capped at Oregon -8.
Jason Dawicke is the author of this piece.