New Fordham college basketball head coach Jeff Neubauer has done a terrific job in turning around a dormant college basketball program that was 10-21 last season, including 4-14 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Neubauer’s success in the Bronx should not come as a surprise in light of his history at Eastern Kentucky, where he garnered five 20-win college basketball seasons and five trips to the postseason.
Neubauer is a highly energetic coach who believes success begins at the defensive end of the court. “To win at this level, defense is everything,” Neubauer said. “You’ve got to defend at a high level, and that’s where our focus will be.” As for his outlook for the 2015-2016 campaign, Neubauer had this to say: “If our guys are totally committed to being defenders and think of themselves as defenders first, I do believe the sky is the limit.”
It is readily apparent through the Rams’ first twelve games of the season that the players have bought into Neubauer’s approach. Fordham is allowing just 62.8 points per game to college basketball teams that would combine to average 70.4 points per game. Even more impressive is the fact that the Rams are 9-0 SU and 2-0 ATS at home this season where they are limiting opponents to a mere 60.4 points per game on 40.7% shooting from the field and 26.6% from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, La Salle arrives in town with a pedestrian offense that is 3.1 points per game worse than average (68.4 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 71.5 points per game). The Explorers’ attack is even worse on the road where they are averaging just 63.6 points per game on 39.2% shooting from the field.
Overall, Fordham is 7.6 points per game better than average defensively, while the Explorers are 3.1 points per game worse than average offensively (+10.7 points per game advantage overall). The Rams also possess a solid offense that is averaging 77.7 points per game on 47.1% shooting from the floor and 39.2% from three-point territory.
At home, the Rams are averaging an impressive 82.4 points per game on 49.7% shooting from the field and 40.1% from beyond the arc. Looking back at the various Eastern Kentucky squads that excelled under coach Neubauer, the common theme was defense and three-point shooting. “College basketball teams I’ve coached are traditionally among the top 3-point shooting teams in the country, and we’ll drastically improve in that category.”
Indeed, Fordham is ranked 29th in the country in three-point field goal percentage (.392), and also do an incredible job defending the three (ranked 5th nationally). The Rams are also ranked 5th in the country in steals (10.2 per game), 24th in scoring defense, 27th in scoring margin, 23rd in assists per game (17.5), 5th in turnovers forced per game (18.5) and 23rd in turnover margin (3.8).
La Salle also possesses a subpar defense that is giving up 74.8 points per game to teams that would combine to average 72.4 points per game. The Explorers are also yielding 77.6 points per game on the road this season (46.6% FG; 37.3% 3-PT). La Salle will also be dominated on the glass as the Explorers are ranked 328th in the country in total rebounds per game and 325th in rebound margin!
From a technical standpoint, La Salle is a money-burning 10-24-2 ATS in its last 36 Atlantic 10 affairs, 0-5 ATS in its last five games versus .501 or greater opposition and 0-6 ATS in its last six games overall. In contrast, the Rams are a profitable 8-1 ATS in their last nine home games, 10-3 ATS in their last thirteen conference games and 21-7 ATS in their last 28 home games against teams with a losing road record.
With the home team standing at 15-5-1 ATS in the last 21 meetings in this series and La Salle posting an 0-4 ATS mark in its last four trips to the Bronx, lay the points with the Rams and invest with confidence.
Oskeim Sports’ Free College Basketball Pick: Fordham (-10) (-110)