College basketball schedule today has 3 games
Only three games are on the betting board, as the NIT quarterfinals take place in Nashville and Orem and the CBI title game takes place in Daytona Beach. It will be Eastern Kentucky and Charlotte for all the marbles in the CBI, while UAB and Vanderbilt meet in one NIT quarterfinal and Utah Valley and Cincinnati square off in the other. Cincinnati is the higher seed, but the road team thanks to floor maintenance at Fifth Third Arena.
I’ll give some thoughts on each game, but will refrain from mentioning any leans. I realize that may have been a little confusing the last two days and I apologize. Games labeled as picks are the only games I consider worth bets in the write-up, like North Texas last night, who was forced to cover twice as an underdog since the game went to overtime. (Tracking sheet)
Sweet 16 versions of the VSiN College Basketball Betting Podcast are now available, so give ‘em a listen today before the games fire up again tomorrow.
Here are some thoughts on the March 22 card (odds from DraftKings):
This will be UAB’s first true road game in 18 days after playing at home for wins over Southern Miss and Morehead State and on a neutral floor in Frisco, TX for the C-USA Tournament. The Blazers haven’t been tested in the NIT. They beat Southern Miss by 28 and Morehead State by 18 after the Eagles upset Clemson in the first round.
Vanderbilt has played two top-100 teams with wins over Yale by nine points and Michigan by one point. There are things I like for both teams here, but probably more things for UAB. The Blazers are almost 100 spots higher in adjusted defensive efficiency because they’re 54th in 2P% and 71st in 3P%, along with forcing a much higher rate of turnovers. The Blazers have a TO% on defense of 19.6%, while Vanderbilt is 333rd in the nation at 15.3%. The Commodores are still above average in 2P% and 3P% defense, especially against the 3, where they rank 46th at 31.4%.
The other thing that should benefit UAB here is that the Blazers are eighth in offensive rebounding percentage and Vanderbilt is 310th in offensive rebounding percentage against. Not surprisingly, UAB has a much higher shot share on Close Twos at 39.3%, while Vanderbilt is at 33.2%, a difference of nearly 200 spots in the national rankings for that metric.
Instead, Vandy opts to shoot 3s, with a 3P Rate of 42.2% and a 3P% of 33.9%. Despite a 14-5 record at home, the Commodores only shot 33.8% from 3 and also struggled on 2s, shooting just 48.7%.
Against Michigan, Vanderbilt was actually down by eight points with 59 seconds left before going on a 9-0 run to finish the game. Even though the Blazers will be in a hostile environment with a trip to Las Vegas on the line, I like them here. With the exception of their C-USA final loss to FAU, they’ve scored at least 1.108 points per possession in 12 of their last 14 games since Jelly Walker returned. It’s a senior-laden group and they’re playing at an extremely high level.
Pick: UAB PK
As mentioned, this is a really weird spot for Cincinnati. The higher-seeded Bearcats are in the elevation of Orem, UT to take on the Wolverines. It didn’t bother Cincinnati being on the road against Hofstra in the second round, as they won 79-65 with one of their most complete performances on both ends of the floor since January. Utah Valley is a definite step up in class, though.
Utah Valley has gone on the road and beaten New Mexico by 14 and Colorado by 12, so they’ve really done well in this tournament thus far.
The Wolverines are a pretty physical team for being in the WAC. Their shot share on Close Twos of 39.9% is well above Cincinnati’s of 31% and tired legs make it tougher to shoot 3s, so I’d worry about the Bearcats and their 39.5% 3P Rate in the altitude. The strength of schedule difference isn’t as big between these two teams as you might expect, as Bart Torvik has Cincinnati at 91 and Utah Valley at 118.
The difference in offensive efficiency between the two teams is that Cincinnati (15.3%) has a lower TO% (19.3%) and shoots the 3 at a higher success rate (35.3% to 33.8%). Defensively, Utah Valley is actually fourth in 2P% and 33rd in 3P%, while Cincinnati is 70th in 2P% and 36th in 3P%. We’ve already seen the under bet down as much as four points at some shops for this one.
Both teams run at an above average tempo and Utah Valley is actually top-50 per Torvik, but the influential money is on a lower-scoring game than where the line opened. Haslametrics only has the game at 145.22 and Torvik has 148. Tough handicap. I think the line is right and the total move took away some value on playing the under.
Will all the adrenaline be enough to get Eastern Kentucky over the hump? The Colonels have played three games in three days in this tournament and every one of them has gone to overtime. Yesterday’s 108-106 win over Southern Utah came in double overtime and EKU trailed by as many as 13 in the second half. That game was played to 94 possessions. In this tournament so far, the Colonels have played 251 possessions in three days.
Charlotte has played three games in four days with wins over Western Carolina (9), Milwaukee (11) and Radford (7). They play at a much slower tempo and have played 190 possessions during their tournament run. The 49ers play a pack line defense under former Virginia assistant Ron Sanchez and have held their three opponents to .901, .960 and .934 points per possession. It is the first time this season since wins over Coppin State, Maryland Eastern Shore and Boise State in the first three games of the season that the 49ers have held three straight opponents under a point per possession.
EKU is 41st in adjusted tempo per Torvik and Charlotte is 362nd. EKU is a great offensive rebounding team and Charlotte is not, but the Colonels’ rank of 33rd in ORB% is counterbalanced by the 49ers’ rank of 22nd in ORB% against. Charlotte is a more efficient offense and a better shooting team, as the Colonels largely score based on volume of possessions, not quality of shots. The 49ers are 52nd in 2P% and 22nd in 3P%, while Eastern Kentucky is 252nd in 2P% and 272nd in 3P%.
We’ve seen a big move on the under here, which is upwards of five points from the opening line. We’ve also seen Charlotte go from -4.5 to -5.5. The 49ers took money against Radford as well and narrowly covered yesterday. I think a lot of people will look to fade EKU off of an unprecedented three straight overtime games and the pace with which they play. I don’t have a bet here.
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