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Wednesday's NIT Quarterfinals: What Bettors Need to Know
Iowa Hawkeyes at Virginia Cavaliers (-4, 123)
Virginia found itself on the doorstep of playing in Madison Square Garden at the start of the season, but a surprising setback dashed its hopes. The Cavaliers haven’t lost at home since and can guarantee themselves a visit to the “world’s most famous arena” as well as a spot in the National Invitation Tournament’s Final Four in New York next week with another such victory on Wednesday over Iowa. Virginia missed its first chance at playing at MSG on Nov. 13 when it suffered its lone home loss on Nov. 13 to Delaware in the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament.
Virginia has since rolled off 19 consecutive victories at John Paul Jones Arena, including double-digit wins over Norfolk State and St. John’s in its first two games in this event. The Hawkeyes, who have won nine of their last 12 contests, represent the final hurdle for the Cavaliers. Iowa has been every bit as impressive in the first two rounds of the NIT, registering a pair of double-digit home wins over Indiana State and Stony Brook.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT IOWA (23-12, 22-9-0 ATS): One of the most important factors in the Hawkeyes’ finish has been the strong play of leading scorer Roy Devyn Marble (14.8 points). Marble missed one contest and averaged a mere 7.3 points in the seven subsequent games following an ankle sprain during practice on Jan. 7, but is averaging 18.3 since. In the team’s NIT victories, Marble is averaging 26 points, 5.5 assists and one turnover. "He is making plays and not turning the ball over," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery told the team’s website. "He's very unselfish and scoring a lot more. It seems to be having a comforting effect as everyone around him feels good (when he has) the ball.”
ABOUT VIRGINIA (23-11, 18-12-1 ATS): First-year players combined to score 46 of the Cavaliers’ 68 points in Sunday’s victory over St. John’s. Both Justin Anderson (18) and fellow freshman Taylor Barnette (13) secured career-high point totals – necessary performances considering leading scorer Joe Harris was held to seven points, 9.4 below his season average. “I thought the first-years really gave us a lift and played very good basketball. That was pivotal in this game,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett told the team's website. Junior Akil Mitchell grabbed nine rebounds against the Red Storm to give him 305 for the season, marking only the eighth time a Cavalier has reached the 300-rebound mark.
* Hawkeyes are 0-4 ATS in their last four vs. Atlantic Coast.
* Cavaliers are 6-2 ATS in their last eight vs. Big Ten.
* Under is 7-3 in Hawkeyes' last 10 overall.
1. Iowa ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring (70.4 points) while Virginia possesses the fourth-best scoring defense in the country (55).
2. The Cavaliers’ 20 home wins is a single-season school record.
3. The winner of this contest will meet either Alabama or Maryland in the NIT semifinals.
BYU Cougars at Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (-5.5, 151)
Brigham Young has bounced back nicely from a shocking 72-69 loss to San Diego in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament with impressive back-to-back home wins over Washington (90-79) and Mercer (90-71). The Cougars, playing in their 11th National Invitation Tournament, improved to 14-8 all-time in that tourney with Monday night's win over the Bears. BYU won the NIT in both 1951 and 1966 but is making its first appearance in the event since 2006.
Southern Mississippi, the top seed in its portion of the bracket, is playing in its ninth NIT and won the event in 1987. The Golden Eagles, who have won five of their last six games, defeated Charleston Southern (78-71) and Louisiana Tech (63-52) in the first two rounds in Hattiesburg, Miss., increasing their school-record home win streak in non-conference games to 30. Southern Miss is 4-1 all-time in NIT home games and is 53-6 at Reed Green Coliseum since 2009. The winner will face Baylor or Providence in the semifinals in New York City on April 2.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPNU
ABOUT BRIGHAM YOUNG (23-11, 15-17-1 ATS): The Cougars have been looking to redeem themselves following their early exit in the WCC tourney and seemed to have found their shooting touch in the process, scoring 90 points in back-to-back games. "The disappointment of the conference tournament was real to our players," BYU coach Dave Rose told the Deseret News. "They really feel excited about this opportunity to continue to play, and not finish with the note we had there. It's good to see. They're playing with a lot of togetherness." Guard Tyler Haws, who scored a school NIT record 37 points in the opening win over Washington, leads the team in scoring (21.5) and has connected on 38.5 percent of his 3-point tries while 6-9 senior Brandon Davies, who had 26 points and 10 rebounds against Mercer, is averaging 18 points and 7.9 rebounds. Sophomore guard Matt Carlino, who began his career at UCLA, has been a big offensive key in the first two NIT games averaging 19 points, nine assists and 6.5 rebounds.
ABOUT SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (27-9, 16-16-1 ATS): The Golden Eagles, unlike BYU, won't blow teams away with their offensive stats but make up for it on the defensive end. Southern Miss averages 9.8 steals per game - which ranks fourth in the nation - and, despite not having a starter taller than 6-7, led Conference USA in rebounding margin (plus-5.8). The Golden Eagles, who outrebounded 26 opponents this season, finished with a 44-22 edge in points in the paint in Monday night's win over Louisiana Tech and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds. "They were tremendous defensively," Louisiana Tech coach Michael White said. "Their zone was terrific. They did a good job of limiting our penetration." Senior forward Dwayne Davis (16.3) and junior guard Jerrold Brooks (10.8) are the only players to score in double figures for well-balanced Southern Miss, which has six players averaging 8.4 points or more.
* Cougars are 4-12 ATS in their last 16 road games.
* Golden Eagles are 4-11-1 ATS in their last 16 games overall.
* Over is 25-9-1 in Golden Eagles last 35 overall.
1. Haws, who has scored 20 or more points in 23 games this season, now has 1,127 career points and is one of two sophomores in school history to reach 1,000 points in a career. The other was Danny Ainge.
2. Carlino has connected on 9-of-18 3-point attempts in the NIT, many from well beyond the arc.
3. Southern Miss PG Neil Watson broke the school single-season record with 63 steals this season, topping the old mark of 59 set by Casey Fisher in 1985-86.
Providence Friars at Baylor Bears (-9, 147)
Two of the top backcourt players still remaining in the NIT will try to push their teams through to the semifinals when second-seeded Baylor hosts No. 4 Providence on Wednesday. Baylor senior point guard Pierre Jackson averages 19.7 points and 6.7 assists. He put up 26 points and a career-high 16 assists in Friday’s 89-86 win against visiting Arizona State. Providence junior Bryce Cotton does less ball-handling than Jackson but just as much scoring, averaging 19.6 points. Cotton is averaging 22.5 points through the first two games of the tournament.
The player responsible for distributing the ball for Providence is senior point guard Vincent Council, who is averaging 10 points and seven assists. He’s also coming off a double-double in the second round, finishing with 12 points and 10 assists in a 77-68 win Monday against visiting Robert Morris. The four-year starter is shooting 33.6 percent, however, the lowest mark of his career.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN2.
ABOUT PROVIDENCE (19-14, 16-12-1 ATS): The Friars need to find a way to slow the high-scoring Bears and a good start would be winning the rebounding battle. Providence is ranked 38th in the nation in rebounding (37.8) and Baylor is 41st (37.7). Kadeem Batts and LaDontae Henton are the key figures in the middle for the Friars. Batts, a 6-10 junior forward, averages 14.7 points and 7.2 rebounds and Henton, a 6-6 sophomore forward, is averaging 13.4 points and 8.3 rebounds. Both players struggled with foul trouble in the win against Robert Morris, so keeping them on the floor will be vital for Providence.
ABOUT BAYLOR (20-14, 14-15-0 ATS): The Bears will counter down low with 7-1 freshman center Isaiah Austin and 6-9 junior forward Cory Jefferson. Like Batts and Henton, they lead their team in rebounding while also ranking second and third in scoring. Austin is averaging 13.2 points and 8.5 rebounds, while Jefferson comes in at 12.4 points and 8.2 rebounds. Austin has shown signs of having heavy legs, however. He has recorded double digits in rebounding once in the last 11 games after hitting that mark 12 times in his first 21. Jefferson has been an offensive roll lately, shooting 30-for-41 in the last four games.
* Friars are 0-5 ATS in their last five vs. Big 12.
* Over is 4-1 in Bears' last five non-conference games.
* Over is 15-7 in Friars' last 22 overall.
1. Baylor will be trying to win at least three postseason games for the fourth time in the last five seasons. The Bears advanced to the NIT finals in 2009 and the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 2010 and 2012, losing to the eventual champion each time.
2. Providence is ranked 260th out of 292 teams in 3-point shooting (31.3). The only player for the Friars shooting better than 30 percent from beyond the arc is Cotton (36.8).
3. The winner will play top-seeded Southern Mississippi or third-seeded BYU in the semifinals April 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Underdogs are 11-5 vs spread in regional semis last two years; Syracuse will have crowd advantage playing in Washington, but since '04, Orange lost three of four regional finals, losing by 9-13-4 points, winning by one LY- they're 0-6 vs spread in last six regional semis, with two wins by a point. Indiana beat Georgetown in OT in its only game vs Big East team this year; Crean has experience vs Syracuse zone when he was coaching Marquette up until '08 (0-2 vs Syracuse in Big East). Crean is 1-1 in this round, losing to Kentucky LY, upsetting Pitt in '03. Since 2002, #1 seeds are 9-3 vs #4 seeds in this round, but only 5-7 vs spread.
Miami won its last six games, five by 10+ points; this is same building where Larranaga won regionals with George Mason in '06. Hurricanes are #9 in country in experience, played #14 schedule- they allowed 54 ppg in first two tourney games, after winning ACC tournament. Since 2002, underdogs are 7-4 vs spread when 2-seed plays a 3-seed in this round. Marquette was down six with 1:10 to Davidson in first round, trailed by down 8 at half to Butler Saturday- they lost in this round last two years, by 18 to UNC, 10 to Florida. Over last decade, ACC tournament winner is 3-5 in this round, despite being favored in eight of the nine games.
LaSalle-Wichita is 9-13 game, first one in tourney history- there was an 8-13 game in '98, with Valparaiso losing/covering vs URI. Explorers won three games last week, after losing last regular season game by 24, first game in A-16 tourney by 11- they've got average experience, are #320 in bench minutes but defend arc (29.9%) well. Wichita pummeled Pitt, then upset #1 seed Gonzaga-- Shockers are 14-1 outside MVC, losing 69-60 at Tennessee- they're #79 in experience, played #67 schedule. LaSalle is #173 in experience, played #77 schedule. Explorers give up 64.5% of its points inside arc, highest percentage in country, partly because center Zack is out injured.
Last five years, team that won Big 10 tourney got to Sweet 16, then lost this game, despite being favored four times; only twice in last decade has tourney winner gotten to Elite 8 (1-6 vs spread in regional semi). SoCal site favors Arizona whose fans were all over Vegas for Pac-12 tourney two weeks ago; Wildcat coach Miller was once an assistant for Matta when he was Xavier's coach. Since 1987, underdogs are 15-9-1 vs spread when 2-seed plays 6-seed in this round. Arizona won by 17-23 in its first two tourney games, but they're going way up in class vs Buckeyes, after facing Belmont/Harvard last week. Wildcats are 14-0 in non-league games, with only three of those wins against top 40 teams.
Iowa is 9-3 in last 12 games, but is playing first true road game since a March 2 loss at Indiana; Hawkeyes lost six of last seven on road, with 74-72 win at Penn State only win. Iowa lost by 16 at Va Tech in its one game vs ACC opponent. Virginia won 19 home games in row since loss to Delaware in November; Cavaliers won at Wisconsin, in only game vs a Big Dozen opponent. Iowa last played Friday; Virginia on Sunday.
BYU is 0-7 this season vs teams ranked in top 60; beat team they beat is #70 Weber State in December. Cougars played four starters 30+ minutes in fairly easy win Monday; they lost last four road games vs teams in top 200. Southern Miss won six of last seven games, losing to Memphis in double OT in C-USA title game; Eagles won last six home games; five of six wins were by 7+ points.
Providence is 9-3 in last 12 games, but lost two of last three away tilts, losing in OT at UConn, by 25 at Syracuse; Council/Cotton played 39/40 minutes in Monday's win over Robert Morris, but Friars did use three starters 13+ minutes. Baylor beat St John's by 19 in only game against a Big East opponent- they won last three home games, by 23-46-3 points. Bears had extra time to prepare; they haven't played since Friday.
George Mason beat Houston in OT Monday after leading 17-0; Patriots' last seven games were all decided by 6 or less points, or in OT. Mason used four starters 30+ minutes Monday- they made 11-22 from the arc. Western Michigan won its first two tourney games in OT, using three of its starters 34+ minutes Monday at Wyoming- four of its last five true road games (2-3) were decided by four or less points.
Wright State won five of last six games, allowing less than 60 points in its last seven wins; Raiders played only one guy more than 30 minutes in Monday's 57-51 win over Richmond. Santa Clara is 5-3 in last eight road games- they played two guys 31-32 minutes in win at Purdue, with star Foster scoring 34 points. Travel here isn't bad, from West Lafayette to Dayton. Santa Clara won five of its last eight away games.
Oral Roberts lost four of its last six road games, but won first two games in this tournament, scoring 84-76 points; Eagles played three starters 33+ minutes in easy win Monday, using two subs more than 4 minutes. Weber State won 15 of last 16 games, losing by 3 at Montana in Big Sky title game; they've won 12 in row at home since BYU beat them here in December. Wildcats haven't played since Saturday vs Air Force.
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NCAA Basketball Picks
Iowa at Virginia
The Cavaliers look to build on their 8-2 ATS record in their last 10 home games versus teams with a losing road record. Virginia is the pick (-4) according to Dunkel, which has the Cavaliers favored by 6 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Virginia (-4). Here are all of today's games.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27
Time Posted: 6:00 a.m. EST
Game 779-780: Iowa at Virginia (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Iowa 67.002; Virginia 73.270
Dunkel Line: Virginia by 6 1/2; 118
Vegas Line: Virginia by 4; 123
Dunkel Pick: Virginia (-4); Under
Game 781-782: BYU at Southern Mississippi (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: BYU 62.702; Southern Mississippi 66.886
Dunkel Line: Southern Mississippi by 4; 155
Vegas Line: Southern Mississippi by 6; 151
Dunkel Pick: BYU (+6); Over
Game 783-784: Providence at Baylor (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Providence 62.414; Baylor 74.049
Dunkel Line: Baylor by 11 1/2; 144
Vegas Line: Baylor by 9; 148
Dunkel Pick: Baylor (-9); Under
Game 787-788: Western Michigan at George Mason (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Western Michigan 53.344; George Mason 59.471
Dunkel Line: George Mason by 6; 142
Vegas Line: George Mason by 4 1/2; 138 1/2
Dunkel Pick: George Mason (-4 1/2); Over
Game 789-790: Santa Clara at Wright State (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Santa Clara 60.980; Wright State 63.475
Dunkel Line: Wright State by 2 1/2; 127
Vegas Line: Wright State by 1; 132 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Wright State (-1); Under
Game 791-792: Oral Roberts at Weber State (9:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Oral Roberts 55.035; Weber State 61.640
Dunkel Line: Weber State by 6 1/2; 147
Vegas Line: Weber State by 9; 141 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Oral Roberts (+9); Over