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NIT Semi-Finals Wagering Preview
College basketball’s craziness continues in New York in the National Invitational Tournament on Tuesday night. While the NCAA tourney only saw one of its top seeds advance to its inal Four, none of the four teams that were seeded at the top of the NIT bracket moved on to Madison Square Garden, the last three all losing at home in the prior round. This sets up a wide open finish for the "other tournament". Read on for a quick look at both of tonight's semifinal contests, then head over to the LIVE ODDS page on Sportsbook.com for the latest prices.
(2) Mississippi vs (3) Dayton 7:00E ESPN2
The Dayton Flyers (23-12, 16-15 ATS) came stumbling down the stretch with a 3-6 SU record (1-7-1 ATS), being eliminated in A-10 Tournament by eventual champion Xavier. The Flyers were picked to be conference champions, but limped to an 8-8 record in a league that was much tougher than expected. For whatever reason, Dayton took flight and has won and covered three games in a row by a margin of 14 points per game.
The Flyers are still playing great defense (holding three teams to 37.3 percent or less shooting), but it has been the offense that has brightened up, shooting over 48 percent in this tournament compared to 44.6 percent on the season. Dayton is 8-1 ATS after playing consecutive road games over the last three seasons.
Mississippi (24-10, 18-11 ATS) saw Arizona State fall in their very first contest in the NIT, which opened the door to three encounters at home for the Rebels. They took advantage of the situation and are running away from the competition. Ole Miss has averaged 88 points per game, forcing opponents to keep pace , which they have not been able to do. Terrico White and Chris Warren are living up to their reputation as a guard tandem. With defense not the primary concern, the Rebels are 12-3 ATS after allowing 75 points or more in back to back contests.
Sportsbook.com had opened with Ole Miss as a favorite, but the line has fallen to a Pick and the total of 142 seems about right if these teams were playing 35 minutes instead of 40. This should be a true up and down affair, with plenty of dunks and speed from both clubs and Dayton is 19-10 ATS versus good shooting teams making 45 percent or more of their shots. Mississippi is 11-3 ATS away from Oxford off a home win scoring 85 or more points.
(4) North Carolina vs. (2) Rhode Island 9:20E ESPN2
Both North Carolina and Rhode Island come in the second semi-final really feeling good about their prospects after winning on enemy floors in really challenging environments, where not many opposing teams escape victorious. The Tar Heels (19-16, 12-20 ATS) went into a real hornets’ nest at Alabama-Birmingham and made enough offense plays while playing great defense (UAB shot 28.8 percent) to come away with the win , 60-55 as 4.5-point underdogs. Much maligned point guard Larry Drew provided steady ball-handling and leadership. While coach Roy Williams would like to believe his guard is finally figuring out what he has been preaching all year, Drew offers this reason for improved judgment and play.
I just don't want to lose," he told the Raleigh New & Observer. "I just don't want to go home. I just don't want to stop playing. I've done my share of my things wrong this season, and I've made my share of mistakes. And I just want to turn things around for myself, and the team." North Carolina is sensational 7-0 AT in road post-season tournament games the last two seasons.
Rhode Island (26-9, 12-17 ATS) is at its best when it's three-pronged scoring attack of Delroy James, Lamonte Ulmer and Keith Cothran are making outside shots, which has been the case in the NIT. The Rams overcame a big deficit at Virginia Tech and won going away 79-72. Rhode Island is 26-15 ATS in road games after one or more Over’s.
Similar to North Carolina, this tournament has been therapeutic for Rhode Island, who started 19-3 and looked like a sure-fire NCAA team in early February. The Rams are a one-point favorite with total of 149, but are 2-9 ATS after a game where they covered the spread this year. The Tar Heels are in the same boat against the spread with crummy 4-13 ATS record after one or more Under’s this season.
Common opponents might be a telling factor in the nightcap with UNC 2-2 & 1-3 ATS (+3.5 point margin) and URI 3-0 & 2-1 ATS, winning by 6.6 PPG.
The StatFox Power Lines for these games show Dayton by 5, North Carolina by 1
No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers vs. No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes
The Tennessee Vols will play the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sweet 16 at the Midwest Regional semifinals in St. Louis Friday night at 7:00 pm eastern time. The game is a rematch of the 2007 Sweet 16 matchup in which Ohio State beat the Vols narrowly 85 - 84. The Buckeyes went on to the Final Four after that win in San Antonio.
Head Coach Bruce Pearl plays eleven players at least eleven minutes per game and has ridden senior forward Wayne Chism, on the floor and in the locker room, as we’ve all seen during the games. Tennessee doesn't have much star power on its roster, the player the Vols wished they had on the court with them is Tyler Smith, but they have played great team ball so far. In two tournament games, the Tennessee Vols have only allowed their opponents to shoot just .382 from the field (42 - 110) and .295 from behind the three point line. In the frontcourt Brian Williams, 6’10”, will play alongside Chism and make it tough for the Buckeyes to defend them. Ohio State will have its hands full against this balanced, defensively oriented squad that confuses and frustrates its opponents.
The Ohio State Buckeyes can attribute their successes to the spectacular play of Evan Turner, which has made them one of the better teams in the country the last two months. Ohio State finished the season tied for first in their conference, and only lost twice since the middle of January. In the conference tournament and in Sunday's second round win over Georgia Tech, the 6'7" junior has played like the candidate for National Player of the Year, his play included a game-winning shot from just inside half court in the conference tournament and a 29 point, 9 rebound and 9 assist performance in the team's 75 - 66 win over the Yellow Jackets, very close to attaining a triple double. In addition to Turner, Jon Diebler is another player to watch out for; he’s considered the best shooter on this Buckeyes team. The Ohio State Buckeyes’ short bench is a concern as they go farther into the tournament, they will be tested when their usual rotation starts to get fatigued.
Here are some strange facts; Ohio State is similar to Tennessee in that all but one of each team's losses came on the road. Tennessee lost an early season game to Purdue on a neutral court, and Ohio State lost to North Carolina on a neutral court. After that, Ohio State and Tennessee lost only one game at home all season. Lastly their overall records are Tennessee Vols 27 - 8, Ohio State Buckeyes 28 – 7, a little too strange, and this is probably why this game is going to be the best one out of all the Sweet 16 matchups.
At www.sportsbook.com the line is currently at 4.5 points in favor of the Buckeyes, but this will be a close game and I would take the Vols and their points, but the Buckeyes will probably edge them out for the win.