A few weeks ago I tried an experiment on Daily Joust. Each day I made two teams – one of players that I recommended (and I still do this) and one of four of the highest priced players surrounded by scrubs. Which team do you think did better on average? It was the team of studs and scrubs. This team had a higher potential to really poorly if the studs didn’t come through, but there is a reason they are called studs and earn huge salaries. I’ll continue to mine the games for values, but feel free to just take the studs.
Today, we’ll look at a great game from the SEC before heading west for three games, two from the Pac 12 and one from the WCC, which is a fine conference that may get three NCAA bids.
Vanderbilt at Alabama
This is certainly the best game of the day with two of the top teams in the SEC. The Commodores have won seven in a row, including three wins over the lower class teams in the SEC. They also beat Alabama last year in their lone meeting at home behind 20 points from John Jenkins ($197,000) and another 19 from Jeffery Taylor ($164,000). Point guard Brad Tinsley ($115,000) added 15 points in the game. Jenkins is averaging 16.3 points in conference play and is coming off a 18-point game in a win over Georgia. He only went 3-for-11 on threes, but was golden at the line nine times. He has hit at least three threes in his last seven games. Taylor has cooled off a little in scoring. He has provided 13.5 points over his last four games. The 6-foot-7 senior has only taken six shots in each of his last two games. He is 7-for-12 on threes in his last three games, but he just needs to shoot more. Tinsley was held to six points in the win over the Bulldogs and did not attempt a three-pointer for the first time this season. The senior point guard had scored in double digits in his four previous games. He is converting 45.5% of his threes this season. Forward Lance Goulbourne ($101,000) has only provided 8.0 points per game in conference play.
The Bulldogs won their first two conference games before being beaten by Mississippi State on the road. The game against Vanderbilt is the middle of a three-game stretch in which they can either make their move or fall into the middle of the conference. They lost the first game, play the Commodores, then head to Kentucky for the weekend. In the game last year, Tony Mitchell ($148,000) and JaMychal Green ($136,000) combined for 45 points. Trevor Releford ($149,000) has passed both forwards in salary by scoring at least 12 points in six straight games. The sophomore guard was held to seven points in the game against the Bulldogs and to snap his streak of hitting at least half of his shots at five games. He had 11 points at Vandy last year. Mitchell has settled into a decent scoring pattern. Like Releford, he was held to single digits (eight points) against MSU. He had scored at least 11 points in his previous five games. Green represents a nice value. He came off the bench for two games while recuperating from a hip pointer and was held to single digits in three straight games. He has had four days to rest since playing last Saturday and had a team-high 14 points in the loss. Trevor Lacy ($93,000) has started the last six games and played at least 27 minutes. The freshman had 19 points against Georgia, but just 14 points in his last two games.
California at Washington
The Huskies were able to gain a rare road win to achieve a sweep of California last season. The two teams combined for 163 points in the first game at Cal and 186 points in the second game. The Huskies will be without guard C.J. Wilcox ($180,000) who has a stress fracture in his femur. That puts the scoring onus on freshman Tony Wroten ($179,000) and sophomore Terrence Ross ($167,000). The forward looked particularly comfortable in a larger scoring role against Washington State as he put up a career-high 30 points. Ross hit six three-pointers and grabbed 14 rebounds. He had scored at least ten points in his previous six games, but with Wilcox out, he may continue to get more shots. Wroten went just 3-for-14 from the field against the Cougars and finished with 13 points. He has missed his last nine three-point shots over five games, but has still managed to scored 17 or more points three times in that span. He is very adept at getting to the line and takes 7.8 freebies per game. Unfortunately, he only makes 53.8% of them. Center Aziz N’Diaye ($93,000) has 26 points in his last two games. He does most of his work on the offensive glass and is not a consistent offensive presence. Abdul Gaddy ($81,000) could see a few more shots as well. He has made just two of his last 14 field goals over the last two games, but if the Bear defense rotates toward Wroten and Ross, Gaddy could get some easy baskets.
Cal has won their last three games by beating the lower ranks of the Pac 12. They are one of the few teams that seems like it could establish itself as a true NCAA team, and a win in Washington would really help that cause. They are 5-1 in conference and have scored at least 77 points in four of their last five games. One roster note: Richard Solomon ($64,000) has been suspended for the rest of the season to concentrate on his academics. This makes freshman David Kravish ($67,000) a nice low-priced play. Sophomore guard Allen Crabbe ($175,000) has scored just 19 points in his last two games. He was held without a three-pointer for the first time this season last Saturday against Utah. He averaged 9.0 points in the two meetings against the Huskies last year. Scrappy guard Jorge Gutierrez ($171,000) bounced back from a terrible shooting game against Colorado to hit 7-for-9 from the field against Utah on Saturday. He was just 2-for-17 against Colorado to finish with five points. Other than that poor game, Gutierrez has scored at least 12 points in his last seven games. He had 24 points at Washington last year. Guard Justin Cobbs ($154,000) has scored at least 12 points in his last five games. He had 14 points and 11 assists against Utah in the 36-point win. Forward Harper Kamp ($103,000) finally seems to be scoring better. He has provided 14 points in his last two games on 13-for-24 (54.1%) from the field. Kamp averaged 14.0 points against Washington in 2010-11.
Arizona State at Colorado
This game features the Sun Devils first trip to the Rockies for a conference game. The Buffaloes had their six-game winning streak snapped on their trip to northern California by California and Stanford. Leading scorer Carlon Brown ($164,000) was held to 22 points in the two games on 7-for-21 (33.3%) shooting. He had scored 46 in his two previous games, wins over the Washington schools. He seems a bit overpriced for this one, but he shot extremely well at home (27-for-43, 62.8% in his last four home games). Senior forward Austin Dufault ($134,000) has scored at least 13 points in his last four games. He hit 5-for-8 on threes against the Bears and Cardinal last week. Andre Roberson ($121,000) will always provide hustle and rebounding. His points tend to come and go. He had 15 points against Stanford. For a player who often resides in the paint, you would expected Roberson to attempt more free throws. He has only take four freebies in his last four games. Freshman Spencer Dinwiddle ($109,000) may have hit the wall. He has only scored 18 points in his last three games. The 6-foot-5 California native has been in foul trouble over the low-scoring stretch.
The Sun Devils have a roster in flux so there are a lot of potential bargains on the team. Top scorer Trent Lockett ($149,000) will likely miss the game with a sprained ankle. Sophomore guard Chanse Creekmur ($95,000) took advantage of extra playing time against Oregon State to score a career-high 24 points on 8-for-9 shooting. He hit six three-pointers. While he is unlikely to shoot as well again, he is still a nice bargain at his below average salary. He has hit 11 three-pointers in his last three games and has played at least 36 minutes in his last four. Former Duke recruit Carrick Felix ($107,000) had 22 points on Jan. 5 against USC. In his five other conference games, he has combined for 27 points. He is a stay away. I do like Russian center Puslan Pateev ($83,000) who has provided 29 points in his last three games. If the seven-footer can stay out of foul trouble, he should be able to use his size to get some easy baskets in Colorado. Has has made 12 of his last 16 shots. Kyle Cain ($111,000) returned from a two-game suspension to provide 23 points off the bench over two games. He had 16 points in the win over Oregon State last Saturday. He has scored in double digits in eight times this season.
Pepperdine at St. Mary’s
Other than an early season loss at Denver, the Gaels have been the most impressive team in the WCC thus far. They have already hosted and beaten BYU and Gonzaga. The offense is also humming along with at least 69 points in their last seven games, including three games of 83 points or more. They shouldn’t have much trouble with the Waves, who get featured for the second time this season because of their opponent. St. Mary’s has beaten Pepperdine ten straight times. Junior guard Matthew Dellavedova ($191,000) was held to nine points in the win on Saturday over Portland, but had scored at least 16 points in his previous six games. Against San Francisco and Gonzaga, Dellavedova combined for 53 points and 11 threes. He hasn’t played less than 35 minutes in over a month. He had 16 points in the win over Pepperdine on New Year’s Eve. Forward Rob Jones ($154,000) had just six games in the win over Peppperdine, but had 31 points in the win over San Diego, his previous team. He has missed his last seven three-pointers and had just two points in the win over Gonzaga on Jan. 12. Stephen Holt ($130,000) and Jorden Page ($97,000) each had 14 points to secure the win over the Waves. Holt has scored at least 11 points in six of his last seven games. He has made four of his last seven three-pointers. Page, an Aussie sophomore, has only scored seven points in his last two games. He had scored in double digits in his previous five games.
Considering the Waves scored just 45 points against St. Mary’s at home, their players might not be the smartest play tonight. If you must have a Wave on your team, it should be Jordan Baker ($136,000). The 6-foot-3 freshman has scored at least ten points in his last six games and is coming off a 26-point game against San Francisco. He had a team-high14 points against St. Mary’s on Dec. 31. He has started the last two games and averaged 37.5 minutes and 16.5 shots. He is making just 28.6% of his three-pointers and has gone 3-for-16 (18.8%) from deep in his last four games. Senior forward Taylor Darby ($108,000) has scored in double digits in seven of his last nine games. He had ten points against the Gaels. Senior center Corbin Moore ($80,000) has not scored more than eight points in his last eight games. He did have a double-digit scoring streak in his previous six games. He’ll get his last shot against the Gaels in a four-year career.