The second-to-last week of the college basketball regular season is almost complete. But before we transition into conference-tournament mode, there are a number of games this weekend in which tempo will be critical.
With that in mind, I’m diving into three matchups you should watch from an Over/Under perspective from Friday to Saturday.
San Jose State vs. San Diego State (Friday)
San Jose State tempo: 286th. San Diego State tempo: 291st.
The slowest-paced game during the Friday night slate will come in the Mountain West, where San Diego State looks to maintain a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
Standing in the Aztecs’ way is a San Jose State team in the cellar of the Mountain West, and spiraling south in defensive efficiency over the past month.
Neither team has gained ground through conference play in offensive efficiency, as KenPom projects the total at 125, a full nine points less than when the teams met on Feb. 9.
San Diego State prefers to keep the game at a grinding pace, going 16-8 to the Under on the season.
Making matters worse for the Spartans is the loss of Myron Amey Jr. — he was absent from the previous Spartans game with an ankle injury.
Look for the excellent perimeter defense of San Diego State to shut down a San Jose State offense that has a heavy tendency to lean on getting points from beyond the arc.
Any number under 125 deserves a look for investment.
Iowa vs. Nebraska (Friday)
Iowa tempo: 46th. Nebraska tempo: 13th.
Not only are the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers two of the fastest teams in the nation, they combine for a 34-18-2 record to the Over on the total this season.
These two teams played to 173 points on Feb. 13, when Keegan Murray managed 37 points.
One of the reasons for the offensive outburst between these two teams is the lack of rebounds for Nebraska — it is near dead last on the offensive glass.
Iowa fields the top offense in the Big Ten in turnover rate, a good sign for points against a Nebraska team that is dead last in defensive efficiency.
The Cornhuskers have not performed well offensively in Big Ten play, but they do rank fourth in getting to the free-throw line, which is key against an Iowa team that commits plenty of defensive fouls.
Any total at 161 or lower will deserve a look at the Over.
Austin Peay vs. Eastern Illinois (Saturday)
Austin Peay tempo: 311th. Eastern Illinois tempo: 306th.
There may not be a better spot to find two teams that have nothing to play for than the Ohio Valley finale between the Governors and Panthers.
Teams must finish in the top eight of the Ohio Valley to qualify for the conference tournament.
Austin Peay is locked into the eighth seed, requiring the Governors to win three straight road games to make the title game. For Eastern Illinois (3-15 in conference), this will be the last game of the season.
The teams have combined for a record of 38-12-1 to the Under on the season, which is a testament to each failing to reach the midpoint of offensive efficiency over the past month.
If Eastern Illinois has any redeeming quality, it is the best team in the conference at keeping opponents off of the free-throw line.
A middling rank of seventh in the conference in perimeter defense may be enough for Eastern Illinois to disrupt Austin Peay’s 3-point attempts.
Look for any total under the KenPom projection of 120.