March 20, 2016 (10:01 AM ET)
There are 3 picks today.
1: Take Hawaii +7 spread against Maryland for 3% of the bankroll.
The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors managed to get past a very good California team in the opening round of 64 and at the moment, this team is truly playing with nothing to lose as they head into this matchup with Maryland. They managed to pick up their first NCAA Tournament win with that victory and we believe they are going to make the most of their opportunity in this contest as next season they have been slapped with sanctions that will keep them out of the postseason. With those sanctions scheduled to be enforced next year, we believe the Warriors will give everything that that have in this contest and that could spell bad news for the Terrapins. Maryland has been an up and down team all season and are a team that seemingly cracks when the pressure mounts. They held an 18 point lead over South Dakota State late in the second half of the tournament opener, before nearly crumbling and allowing the Jackrabbits to (nearly) tie the game on their final possession. There is no question that Maryland is the more talented team in this contest but given the way that they have struggled over recent weeks, the Hawaii defense could prove to be the difference in this contest.
The Rainbow Warriors are a solid team on the defensive end and come into this contest ranked 50th in the nation in scoring defense allowing an average of just 66.5 points per game and have held their opponents to just 39.8 percent shooting from the field. They have also been solid at defending the perimeter, holding teams to just 31% from beyond the arc. Hawaii's defense was instrumental in their win over Cal as they held the Golden Bears to just 41% from the field and 16% from deep. Let's not forget that Hawaii has also been extremely proficient on the offensive side of the ball as well this season. They are tied for 67th in the nation as they score an average of 77.6 points per game on 46.2% shooting from the field. California has one of the best defenses in the country and the Rainbow Warriors managed to torch the Golden Bears on the inside, shooting a blistering 51% from the field. A big part of that performance was their ability to penetrate the lane and cause contact. Hawaii is one of the best in the nation at getting to the line as they average 26 attempts from the charity stripe per game. If the Terps are not disciplined with their defense, the Warriors will make them pay at the foul line.
Maryland certainly has the talent to blow the door off of Hawaii in this contest, but we have yet to see a complete 40 minute effort from this team in the last few weeks. They allowed an 18 point lead to evaporate against the Jackrabbits and we wouldn't be surprised to see something similar happens in this contest. If Maryland takes this matchup for granted and is already looking ahead to a Sweet 16 berth, Hawaii has the offensive ability to make them pay. We expect this to be a closely contested matchup, with Hawaii possibly challenging for the outright victory, but even if we are wrong and Maryland jumps out to a big lead, Hawaii has the offense to cut into the lead for a potential backdoor cover. Maryland will need to play a near perfect game in order to cover this number and we just don't see that happening. The points will prove to be valuable in this contest as Hawaii manages to stay within this generous pointspread.
2: Take Northern Iowa +7 spread (buy half a point) against Texas A&M for 3% of the bankroll.
It has been an interesting season, sports betting wise, for the Northern Iowa Panthers this year. This is a team that made an early statement this season with victories over the #1 North Carolina and then #5 Iowa State! The market ballooned on the Panthers and suddenly everyone was riding the hot-hand. Unfortunately for them, the Panthers struggled to start conference play, losing 6 of their first 7 conference games including 4 straight as the favorites. The oddmakers made it a point to slight the Panthers and the market has never really fully recovered.
This is a team that has been undervalued a majority of the season and is once again in this contest. Looking at their recent record, they are 13-1 in their last 14 games and have gone an ultra-impressive 12-1-1 against the number during that span. They hold wins over the Tar Heels, Cyclones and even managed to defeat Wichita State twice this season (once on the road). This is a team that has top 20 talent and as they showed in their opening round matchup with Texas, they will not be intimidated by any team. They are a very experience team with their three leading scores all being seniors and the other 4 players in their rotation have a full year under their belts with the team. They are no strangers to the round of 32 either as they reached this point last season before ultimately falling against the Louisville Cardinals.
There is no question that the Texas A&M Aggies are a quality team and certainly a step up in competition from the Texas Longhorns; however Northern Iowa has already beaten teams that are better than A&M this season. Even if they don't managed to pull off the outright upset, they should be able to do enough to stay competitive in this contest and keep within this generous number. Northern Iowa is an incredibly dangerous team, especially when getting points. A&M had a fairly easy time in their opening round matchup with Green Bay and could come into this one just a bit overconfident. The Panthers have played the role of spoiler multiple times this season and if the Aggies even slightly overlook them in this contest, it could spell disaster. Their game with the Texas Longhorns came down to the final possession and we wouldn't be shocked if the same happened in this contest. Even if Northern Iowa falls short, the points are likely to come into play.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Northern Iowa is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games against SEC teams!
- Northern Iowa is 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 Sunday games!
- Northern Iowa is a perfect 4-0 ATS on neutral courts when the total is between 120 to 130 points over the last 3 seasons!
3: Take Stephen Austin +2 spread (buy half a point) against Notre Dame for 3% of the bankroll.
Stephen F. Austin wasn't a team that many had advancing past the first round of the NCAA tournament, however we knew exactly how talented a team this is and how they pose matchup problems for nearly anyone they face. A lot of talk has been made that their win over West Virginia was a fluke and that this caught them by surprise... we don't believe that is the case at all. This is a very good all-around team. Even though they play in a smaller conference, they are the very best that the conference has to offer and is now showing everyone on the big stage.
This is a team that is 21st in the nation in scoring offense, averaging over 80 points a game on nearly 49% shooting from the field. They are also one of the best defensive teams in the country, ranked 13th in the nation in scoring defense, holding their opponents to just 63.2 points per contest (they held WVA to just 56!). What separates SFA from other teams in the country is their ability to force and create turnovers. They are ranked #1 in the country in turnovers and force them on 25.9% of their opponents’ possessions. They managed to turn WVA over 22 total times in their opening round matchup, including 16 total steals. This is a team that has incredibly quick hands and can be a nightmare matchup for the Irish in this contest.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame is somewhat fortunate to be in this position. They rallied in the second half against Michigan, outscoring the Wolverines 41-22 for the 70-73 victory but did not play a very good game at all. Notre Dame has had problems with ball security this season and committed 16 turnovers against Michigan in their opening round contest. They were fortunate to be able to come away with a win, but the Wolverines are nowhere near as good defensively as SFA is. Turning the ball over that many times in this contest would likely spell disaster for the Irish.
There is no question that the Lumberjacks had struggled this season when taking a step up in competition having lost at Baylor, Arizona State and Northern Iowa; however it is certainly worth mentioning that all of those games were played on the road, in their opponent’s home gym. This is a much different atmosphere and as they showed against West Virginia, they are not going to be intimidated by anyone. Their win over the Mountaineers was no fluke, they not only beat them, but they completely outplayed and dominated them from start to finish. The Lumberjacks are a solid team and they have a point to prove at the moment. They are no strangers to this setting and nearly advanced to the Sweet 16 last season but came up just short against the Utah Utes. This is a winnable game for SFA and we believe they shut down the ND offense and come away with the outright victory. Even if they fall short, we expect them to be in it to then end in which the free points could prove to be precious.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Notre Dame is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 NCAA Tournament games!
- Stephen Austin is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral court games!
- Notre Dame is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games following an ATS win!
- Notre Dame is 1-6 ATS in its last 7 NCAA Tournament games as the 'favorite'!
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