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East Tennessee State head coach Steve Forbes is a hot commodity after taking the Buccaneers to the NCAA Tournament in just his second season in Johnson City.
While losing four starters from last year’s 27-win team would ordinarily be devastating for most programs, Forbes is one of the best recruiters in the nation and has restocked the Buccaneers’ roster with a plethora of talent.
East Tennessee State boasts one of the deepest and most talented backcourts in the Southern Conference. The lone returning starter is senior guard Desonta Bradford, who possesses rare size in the backcourt and is currently leading the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game.
Junior college transfer Andre Edwards gives the Buccaneers additional size and length on the perimeter and is averaging 11.0 points per game on 57.1% shooting from the field and 66.7% from beyond the arc.
Senior Devontavius Payne has been described as a microwave due to his ability to heat up quickly at any given juncture of a game. Payne is averaging 10.0 points in 23:26 minutes per game, while fellow guard Jalan McCloud is second on the team with 11.7 points per game on 48.5% shooting from the field. East Tennessee State’s frontcourt is anchored by seniors David Burrell, who leads the team in rebounds with 6.5 per game and Peter Jurkin, who started his collegiate career at Indiana.
Forbes emphasizes the importance of playing defense and the Buccaneers are allowing just 71.4 points per game to teams that would combine to average 76.8 points per game against a mediocre stop unit. East Tennessee State is also 2-1 at home this season where it’s limiting foes to a mere 67.7 points per game on 41.2% shooting from the field.
The Buccaneers should have success slowing down a Northern Kentucky attack that is 3.8 points per game better than average in 2017 (85.2 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 81.4 points per game).
The Norse are 2-2 away from home this season where they are averaging 77.5 points per game, which is significantly less than their season-to-date scoring average. From a technical standpoint, East Tennessee State is 4-1 ATS in its last five home games, 3-1-1 ATS in its last five games versus teams with a winning record and 5-2-1 ATS against .601 or greater opposition.
Finally, the Buccaneers are looking to avenge an earlier 81-63 loss to Northern Kentucky and my math model indicates that the wrong team is favored in this game. Grab the available points with East Tennessee State as one of Oskeim Sports’ NCAA Basketball picks for Wednesday, December 5.
Free NCAA Basketball Picks for Wednesday, December 5:
- East Tennessee State (+2) over Northern Kentucky
- Pacific (+5.5) over UC-Davis