Justin's Past Picks
This should be South Alabama in this game, Coastal hit the two luckiest shots of their season to force and, subsequently, win in OT against USA. While that's not the reason for my pick here, I doubt that Coastal can will that type of performance against a team that it has little familiarity with (USA and Coastal are divisional foes). Fresno comes from a Mountain West that has been ragged on all March because they couldn't get a single NCAA win, well Fresno is playing with much worse competition and the MW is still a good conference. I think Fresno get's this one done by more than a bucket, this has a chance to be a similar result to the beating they gave Southern Utah. Lay it with Fresno.
There might just be too much hype on the Aggies right now, so let's go against it. I like this game to be low scoring, so on principle I think that gives an edge to taking the points before even fading the recency bias. My model also has this game incorrectly priced by the books, I make Xavier just a 2 point underdog today. They have a strong offensive team that effectively scores the ball without relying on the 3pt shot. They do not make many unforced errors, which should limit transition buckets for the Aggies, and maybe most importantly they get to the Free Throw line with good frequency while not fouling too much on the defensive end. I'll grab the points in a championship game that I like to be called in such a way that it remains close and exciting.
Championship game with a total above 135? Merry Christmas everyone! The only way this game reaches this mark is through overtime, in my opinion. So go grab a nice +1000 sprinkle on this game to go to OT and play the Under. The Aggies are now on a 7 game streak of limiting opponents to 65 points or less, and I think Xavier is due for a bit of regression after hot shooting against SBU. This will be one of the toughest defenses that Xavier has played all season and I like the Aggies to slow it down. We saw last game had 8 points in the final 6min for A&M vs WSU, with lock down ability like that I think the Under has to be the call.
Doubling down on this game and the Texas A&M defense with the Under play. This number is too high for a game of this severity. Neither team is from around the New York area so there might be some unfamiliarity and lack of crowd motivation. I also see this game being close, so at the end of the game the clock could easily be milked strategically by the team in the lead. Texas A&M has a dominant Over rate this year but that's really slowed down in the playoffs and I think we have a good chance to see this total come in under 130.
Let's grab this dominant Texas A&M squad to advance to the NIT final. They've been playing very strong basketball, winning 10 of their last 11 games and only taking a loss to Tennessee in the SEC tournament. They've also kept opponents under 66 points in all of their last 6 games. I think they will again be able to lean on their defense and keep this Washington State team at bay.
There's not much to say that my counterparts have not covered for this Bonnies Xavier matchup. This is going to be a home game for SBU, they're a fan favorite in their home state and travel well already. They get to play at The Mecca and I expect they'll have the motivation and the shooting to get this one done. I'm going with the money line.
I'd love to wait another 2 hours to try to get the hook at +3.5, so I would highly advise doing so, but I am on Nova tonight. It's likely a death wish, Houston looks great, but it's hard to bet against the free throw shooting, guard play, coaching and experience of Villanova. I think they shock everyone and beat the Cougars even with Houston's recent defeat of one of the odds-on favorites to take home the ring in Arizona. Take the full possession or 3.5 if you have the patience to wait.
This line is moving, I see 13 at some books but 12.5 is still out there. So let's lock this in. This has the chance to be a real slaughter, 12.5 is just past four possessions and Purdue could probably do that at half time. I know that Saint Peters looks like a team that can cover this line, but they're simply due to regress and you're getting value on a team that was atop the AP rankings at a point this year. Ivey, Edey, Williams... these guys are not messing around. They're not getting taken by surprise like Kentucky which only had a 2% chance to lose their game based on shots taken, anyway. To even be playing in the second weekend is a big deal to St. Peters, while for Purdue this is just business. I'll happily take the business end over a team that's covered 9 straight.
This one is moving to 3, so I highly recommend locking in the win condition now if you have not already. Miami is the better, more complete team here. I think that Iowa St. has had a bit of an easy road to this game. Their last game against Wisco showed how one dimensional that Big 10 team really was. Now we will see how the Big 12 defensive based teams do again, and while I do like ISU to lower the total, I still think the overall effectiveness of this Canes squad wins out. Larranaga has this team exactly where he wants them, which is in the paint and playing effectively close to the basket. This should be the deciding factor, as their FG% will be too high to deal with. Lay the 2.5 with Miami
I have gone back and forth on this one all week, I understand taking both sides here, but I have come to the conclusion that Texas Tech has what it takes to beat Duke tonight. There might be less foul calls on Duke but there's also less defense for the Blue Devils. Defense wins games like this and that, at the end of the day, is why I'll take the PK. Duke will need to shoot quite well to win, and they might struggle on the west coast. This is going to be a fascinating game, and it'll either go to over time or be won by 10 points- It just has that feel. I'm gambling on Texas Tech. Let's go!!
Look at Houston, back again, doubted by everyone, including me. They've changed my mind. I like what they put forward and with the rest and preparation of the weekend, I think they're winning this game and so does my model. I'll take the extra points to be safe, Houston is 13-4 ATS after 4 days off and even though it gives Kerr Kriisa more time to heal his ankle, I think Houston is going to show why they're one of the most highly rated teams by analytical models like mine. This game is likely to slow down and Houston should out execute Arizona since they're the better basketball team. Go Cougars!
This game is going to be a battle, but when it comes down to it I think Villanova has what it takes to beat Michigan and cover a 5 point line. Nova is one of the most complete and effective teams in the nation right now. They have the guard play, shooting and defensive metrics needed to methodically win a game against anyone. They are liable to keep a game below 120 points on any given night and close out a cover as the best free throw shooting team in the nation. In a game where every point matters and games come down to shooting performances behind the arc and at the line, Nova is the type of team you want to back. By my analysis, it would take a red hot shooting night for Michigan to compete. I'm laying the 5.
This line is not big enough for a Gonzaga team that has what it takes to beat anyone by 10+ points. My number on this game is 10.5 but I see a real possibility of a win by more than 14. Here's why, Arkansas looked beatable in games against both New Mexico St and Vermont. While both are top 80 teams in the nation, Gonzaga is far-and-away the best team analytically. The Hogs also have only beaten one highly ranked team away from home, and that was LSU, an inexperienced team who they beat twice this season. I'm not too impressed with that, I think the SEC has been a bit subpar and Gonzaga has a real chance to pick them apart, especially if the Zags don't allow trips to the free throw line, which is something the Hogs depend on. Lay it!!
Fresno's in a different league than Youngstown when it comes to defense. Both these teams have middle of the pack offensive efficiency ratings, but Fresno is a top 40 defense and Youngstown is bottom 40. Almost 300 teams between them. Youngstown probably wont be able to stop Fresno and Fresno should be happy to flex their muscles in post season play. This is a weird tournament, but this line should probably be 15.5. Lay it.
There's probably a bit of an over reaction in the market to have such a high number in such an important game. These teams are some of the best that didn't make it to the big dance. They can both shoot well, but defense is what fuels a tournament run. The winner's next game is held at MSG of all places, so make no mistake, it's very serious at this point in the NIT. To me, that means buckets are at a premium. Texas A&M has gone Under the last three straight after a 23-10 O/U prior. The Aggies have been locking it down and keeping opponents below 65 points, they should play strong on the defensive side again tonight. I'm on the contrarian Under.