The first edition of the Mid-Major Stock Watch was a big hit, so we decided to run it back for a weekly edition.
The “Teams to Buy” have gone a combined 7-3 since then, which makes me feel better about jinxing teams when I say nice things about them (sorry San Diego State). The “Teams to Sell” are 3-6 in that same time frame, so I guess that makes me kind of right.
Most of the conferences are fully immersed in their league schedules, and teams have already begun to position themselves for potential postseason runs. Here are this week’s teams to buy, sell, or hold steady on as college basketball takes center stage.
Teams to Buy
Northeastern: Huskies fans, we heard you loud and clear. Northeastern owns one of the longest win streaks in the country at eight straight games, which it started by picking up road wins at Vermont, Michigan State, and Oakland in a 10-day span. The Huskies are now 5-0 in the CAA, and look to contend with UNC Wilmington and College of Charleston for conference supremacy. They have a three-game road trip on the horizon, but being able to traverse those games unscathed could put them in prime position.
VCU: Don’t look now (fine, you can look), but the Rams are in first place in the Atlantic 10 and have won eight straight since their inexplicable loss to Georgia Tech in overtime. The Rams have five players averaging double figures in conference play, and still run out the chaotic defense that gives teams fits. Combine a life-altering home venue with an undefeated road record (4-0), and you have a team that is hard to beat wherever you play them.
Boise State: The Mountain West as a whole has been somewhat disappointing, but the Broncos have been quite the opposite. Led by the emergence of Chandler Hutchison, Boise State is off to a 4-0 start in conference play, and owns a seven-game win streak that dates back to early December. Our friends over at Mountain West Connection discussed how the Broncos are emerging as the frontrunners on their most recent podcast, and their recent play confirms that notion.
Akron: Other than a loss to Youngstown State in their opener, the Zips have only dropped games at Creighton and Gonzaga. They have the best offense in the MAC, and are led by their behemoth in the post, Isaiah Johnson, who is averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds per game in conference play. Oh, and at 6’10” and 290 pounds, he’s also averaging nearly five assists per contest. Make it a point to watch Johnson and the Zips, and you’ll realize why they’re one of the teams to beat in the MAC.
Teams to Sell
Central Michigan: After lighting teams up in non-conference play, the Chippewas have now dropped their first three games in the MAC. They don’t stop anyone on defense, and despite having the dynamic duo of Marcus Keene and Braylon Rayson, they just don’t have enough offensive options. Their lack of an interior presence has been a major issue, and MAC teams are taking advantage by pounding them on the glass.
Davidson: Coming into the season, Davidson was tabbed as one of the teams to beat in the Atlantic 10. However, a 1-3 start has all but eliminated the Wildcats’ chances of winning the league. Their most recent home loss to Fordham was brutal, and further revealed some bigger issues for the Wildcats. They struggle to defend the three-point line, and aren’t hitting enough threes to make up for that. Jack Gibbs has been disappointing in conference play too, as he’s only averaging 15.8 points per game in league play.
New Mexico: If you haven’t seen the Lobos’ collapse against Nevada yet, do that before reading any further.
Nevada trailed New Mexico 90-76 with just over a minute left last night. What happened next was one of the most insane comebacks you'll see. pic.twitter.com/PEqe0wmbqK— March Madness 2017 (@Madness2017) January 8, 2017
Psychologically, a loss like that is completely demoralizing, and it showed when New Mexico followed up the collapse with a home loss to UNLV. The Lobos are now caught up in the mess that is the Mountain West standings, and with two upcoming road games at Colorado State and Boise State, their season could be in jeopardy.
Teams to Hold Steady
Illinois State: I’m thiiiis close to being all in on the Redbirds. They’re athletic, shoot the ball well, and can defend like hell. And at 5-0 in the Missouri Valley, they’re as hot as any team around. But I’m holding off for one reason: Wichita State. The Shockers travel to Normal tomorrow in what will be one of the biggest games of the weekend. If the Redbirds come away with a win, I’ll be ready to take the driver’s seat of the Illinois State bandwagon.
Old Dominion: The Monarchs have one of the best defenses in the country. They’re rated 19th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency, and are top-five in the country in opponent’s points per game. However, they’re also anemic on offense. Their effective field goal percentage of 42.0 is 345th of 351 Division I teams. At 4-1 in Conference USA, they’re off to a good start, but still don’t have any top-100 wins. Old Dominion has shown it can beat lesser teams, but the Monarchs can’t be so night-and-day on both sides of the ball if they hope to usurp Middle Tennessee for the conference crown.