February 24, 2016 (4:00 PM ET)
Take Massachusetts at +8 spread (buy half a point) against St. Joseph's for 3% of the bankroll.
The St Joe's Redhawks are having an outstanding year and appear to be a lock for the upcoming NCAA tournament this season. They are 22-5 overall and an impressive 11-3 in the conference. As it stands they are tied with the Dayton Flyers for second place in the conference and one game behind the VCU Rams. The Redhawks have been one of the hottest teams in the nation this season and have won 11 of their last 12 games. They were however handed a brutal loss in their last contest as they gave up 99 points on the road to Davidson. It has been a while since the Hawks defense struggled in a loss like that and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back for this contest.
UMass had a brutal six game losing streak earlier on in the conference schedule but they have turned it around lately and have now won three of four after defeating George Mason 70-64 on Sunday. During their recent winning streak, they managed to hand the conference leading VCU Rams one of their two conference losses on the season. You can bet that they will be motivated in this contest now playing the second place team and once again looking to play the role of spoiler. This is a team that has seemingly played up (and down) to their level of competition. They have managed to win games against what have been perceived to be higher quality opponents while losing to the teams many expected them to beat. Win or lose, the Minutemen have been playing consistent and closely contest games recently as evidenced by the fact that they have one to overtime in three of their last 7 matchups.
This is the second meeting between these two teams this season and is a revenge game for the Minutemen. In the first contest, St Joe's managed to come away with a 78-70 victory, however the Minutemen really dominated that game. The difference however was on the free throw line. UMass gave up 28 fouls to St Joe's 13 and were outscored on the charity stripe 29 to 10. If the UMass players can play a more disciplined style of game in this contest and not allow the Redhawks those free point from the stripe, they should have a chance to not only keep this game close, but also potentially challenge for the outright victory.
There is no question that St Joe's needs this game more in order to keep their spot in the conference standings; however all of the pressure is on them in this contest. They are the ones who ultimately need to win this game in order to keep their current standing in the conference. They are the ones who need to bounce back from their first loss on the road and they are also the ones who are playing in their second of back to back road games. With all of the things going against them in this contest, we wouldn't be surprised to see them come out a bit stiff and try to force things to happen. Meanwhile the Minutemen have nothing to prove in this matchup. They aren't expected to win and will have the luxury of playing lose and free and allowing the game to come to them. That could be the difference in this contest. UMass has already pulled an upset of VCU and we wouldn't be completely shocked if they did the same to St Joe's in this contest. Even if they don't, they are a quality offensive team who has already proven to hang tough with this team on the road. Now being at home, they should score enough points to keep this within the generous spread.
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