My friends and I are kind of immature, so you can imagine the fun we’re having with a team named Lipscomb in the NIT championship game. The students at this university are having some fun too, because in these last two seasons their program has made it into their first two post-season appearances as a Division I school – last year they went into the NCAA’s, where they were beaten by North Carolina, and now, as they have taken things much further and find themselves in Madison Square Garden, once the mecca of college basketball, where they will meet the Texas Longhorns in the title game, tipping off at 7 PM ET and televised by ESPN.
And while that game is being shown, BetAnySports customers will be able to feast on real-time wagering, by accessing what is available through Live Betting Ultra.
Lipscomb is not only the smaller team on the floor, averaging an inch less per man than Texas, they’re small – period.
There are a little more than 4600 students, inclusive of undergraduates and grad students, which makes them quite a bit smaller than the other Division I schools located in Nashville – Vanderbilt and Belmont. And by the way, if you’re looking for a bit of trivia to tell your friends about as you watch this at the local sports bar, Lipscomb and Belmont are just TWO miles away from each other, closer than any other D-I schools. And they play each other twice a year, even though they aren’t in the same conference. It’s called the “Battle of the Boulevard.”
The University of Texas has a total of over 51,000 students, which should give you an idea of the “David vs. Goliath” quality of this matchup. Of course, appearances like that can occasionally be deceiving; UCF has over 66,000 students, while Duke has a little over 15,000. But in terms of hoops accomplishment, the David and Goliath roles were reversed.
This Lipscomb squad has no basketball legacy to speak of, at least at this level. And let’s honest – very few people, relatively speaking, have ever heard of the school.
But if they put forth efforts like they did the other night, coming from eleven points down with less than seven minutes left to beat surging Wichita State by seven, they’re going to create a lot of awareness.
Okay, here are the NIT championship betting numbers currently up at BetAnySports, where you can get reduced juice today on the website:
Texas Longhorns -1
Lipscomb Bisons +1
Over 143 points -110
Under 143 points -110
As you can see, “David” is getting plenty of respect.
Texas did beat Lipscomb rather handily last season (80-57), although Mohammed Bamba was around for them at the time to get ten rebounds and five blocked shots. But you have to give the ‘Horns a lot of credit for forcing some bad shots out of TCU the other night, holding the Frogs to just 28% from the field in the 58-44 victory. They also had 15 assists on 23 made baskets, which is a very high percentage. They looked a lot more like the team that beat Purdue and North Carolina than the one that didn’t exactly glide through the Big 12 season.
Can they make it real difficult for Lipscomb to shoot? Well, the Bisons have been pretty hot from the arc in two of their NIT wins, but they have also managed to come out on top when they weren’t so torrid, like Tuesday night, when they hit just nine of 33 triples. In the two games where they didn’t quite reach their season’s percentage in threes, the opponent bricked from long range as well.
Clearly there is a guy for Shaka Smart to take away here, and he’s Garrison Mathews, who averaged better than 20 points on the season and has exploded for 44 and 34 points the last two games, with 13 treys and 19 made free throws. Fortunately, they are familiar with him from last year. And what we’re thinking is that if Texas can make him shoot from uncomfortable places, he’ll keep taking bad shots, because this offense is very Mathews-centric.
Look, you can’t discount what Lipscomb has done to get here, pulling a rabbit out of a hat against N.C. State and then making that grand comeback against Wichita State. But if you prefer to look at a team that has performed against the highest caliber of opponents, and could indeed by somewhere near a peak right now, you may want to be leaning toward the Longhorns at a reasonable number. It’s obvious that – to use a cliche – they came to this tournament on a “mission,” and Kerwin Roach, who came back from a suspension during the Big 12 tournament, got back into top form during these proceedings. You don’t have to be a “square” to like the ‘Horns.
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