March 15, 2017
There are two picks today.
#1: Take Central Florida -2 spread (buy the half point) against Colorado for 3% of the bankroll.
Central Florida is making only its seventh Division I postseason appearance and first in the last five seasons. Even though they ultimately fell short of earning a bid for the NCAA Tournament, the goal now for the Knights is earning the program’s first major Division I postseason victory. That should be a motivating factor tonight for a team that has been one of the most improved in the country over the last year. Under first-year head coach Johnny Dawkins, UCF has made a nine-win improvement over last season and finished fourth in the American Athletic Conference with an 11-7 mark. Prior to ultimately falling in the AAC semi-finals to eventual winner SMU, the Knights were on an impressive 6 game winning streak behind one of stingiest defenses in the country.
UCF's defense holds the nation’s best field-goal percentage against (36.2 percent) and ranks fourth nationally allowing just 60.6 points per game. Credit has to be given to Tacko Fall, who is averaging 2.5 blocks and 9.6 rebounds per contest while shooting 72.2 percent from the floor and averaging 11.1 points per game. He stands at 7'6" and is the nation's tallest player in Division I. Given Fall's size, there is no wonder that UCF ranks 4th nationally in rebounding, bringing down an average of 41.2 boards per game and have a plus 8.8 rebounding margin on the season. Those fundamental advantages have been a big reason for the Knights success this season and we believe it will be a contributing factor tonight against the Buffaloes.
With this being an NIT tournament game, this matchup will be played at UCF's home floor which gives them a decisive advantage. Colorado has proven to be a capable team this season, but has struggled at time on the road, where they are just 6-10 on the season. Playing in the offensive friendly Pac-12, the Buffaloes also haven't seen a team as stingy on the defensive end as the nights. Colorado was thoroughly handled against both Arizona and Oregon, two team who play a similar style defense than that of UCF. This is simply a bad matchup for Colorado. The Knights have all of the confidence and momentum heading into this matchup and with them looking for their first postseason win, we expect them to leave it all on the court and should come away with the victory. With this spread being where it is at, a victory should naturally induce a cover.
#2: Take BYU -6 spread against UT Arlington for 3% of the bankroll.
This is an interesting matchup as the #6 seeded Texas Arlington Mavericks open up the first round of the NIT with a road game against the #3 seeded BYU Cougars. What is interesting about this matchup is the fact that a lot of people are very high on this Mavericks team this season and for good reason. Other than Gonzaga, UT Arlington was the only other team this season to defeat the St. Mary's Gaels. Not only did the Mavericks defeat St. Mary's, but they managed to do so on the road, which is an impressive notion in itself. They were arguably the top team in the Sunbelt conference this season, but despite their accolades, we believe this is a bad matchup for them against an extremely dangerous BYU team.
The BYU Cougars have had a somewhat disappointing season, but to their credit, the highlight of their year is the fact that they are the only team in the nation to take down (then) #1 ranked Gonzaga and hand them the only blemish on their record. At times, BYU can be one of the most explosive and deliberate offenses in the country, especially in Provo where they went 14-3 this season. At home, the Cougars are averaging 83.4 points per game on 47.5% shooting from the floor. They have also been one of the better rebounding teams in the country, averaging 44 boards at home. They will hold a decisive advantage over their opponents on the offensive side of the ball tonight. BYU is outscoring their opponents by an average of 12 points per game and outrebounding their competition by nearly 8 boards per game at home this season.
Besides their advantage on offense and rebounding, the Cougars also have the benefit of having played the tougher competition on the year. The Mavericks may have the better overall record, but there is no question that the Cougars are the more battle tested team in this contest. Given all things considered, we actually believe this game is a mismatch and wouldn't be surprised if the Cougars put this one away early. If BYU comes into this contest motivated, they should have no issues winning this one fairly easily by double digits. To get them as just 6 point favorites shows tremendous value that is simply too good to pass up.
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