March 21, 2017
There are two picks today.
#1: Take Richmond +8 spread (buy the half point) against TCU for 3% of the bankroll.
Besides their upset win over the Kansas Jayhawks in the Big 12 tournament, TCU might have had their most impressive win of the season on Sunday when they defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes in overtime without their starting point guard. Jaylen Fisher suffered a broken left wrist in the Horned Frogs’ NIT win over Fresno State in the opening round on March 15. Fisher averaged 9.9 points and 4.0 assists in 35 games. Yet on Sunday, TCU found a way to beat Iowa without him. It was an impressive performance, however, it's not uncommon for a team that loses a key player to see others step up in the first game of their absence. It's one thing to rally together for a single game, it's another thing to be able to do so on a consistent basis moving forward.
There is no question that the stock of TCU is currently the highest it's been all season long, however it's important to remember that this is the same team that managed to lose its final 7 games of the regular season which is the reason why they are playing in this tournament and not the Big Dance. The oddsmakers are putting a ton of stock in the Horned Frogs at the moment and we believe it is going to all come crashing down for their backers tonight.
The Richmond Spiders are a scrappy team that we don't believe are getting the full respect of the oddsmakers here. They have played well all season long and are making a quality run in this tournament having already defeated both Alabama and Oakland to get to this point. What is impressive about those victories is that both of those teams play a completely different style of basketball. Alabama is a hard-nosed defensive team that Richmond managed to hang 71 points on and did so on the road. Meanwhile, Oakland is a team that is paced by their offense and they managed to hang 87 points on them. They have found ways to win with both their offense and their defense in this tournament and that could be the difference in this contest tonight.
TCU may have the hot hand at the moment and have been the higher profiled team given their upset win over the Jayhawks, however we don't believe they are 8 points better than their opponents. Richmond has only been a road underdog between 6.5 and 9 points once this season and that was in their previous game against Alabama. Richmond not only covered the spread, but managed to win that game by 7 points. The Spiders are severely underrated heading into this contest and we expect that they will be able to keep this one close if not have a chance to win outright.
#2: Take Georgia Tech +6 spread (buy the half point) against Mississippi for 3% of the bankroll.
Not many people expected much out of the Mississippi Rebels this season and they were even slated to be an early exit from this tournament, however they have continued to exceed expectations by defeating both Monmouth and upsetting top seeded Syracuse enroute to this matchup with the Yellow Jackets. That being said, the Rebels are heavily reliant on their ability to knock down outside shots. In their victory over the Orange, Ole Miss connected on 15 three-pointers, which accounted for more than half of their total offense. Had two of those shots not fallen, then it's quite likely that the Rebels would not be in this matchup tonight. Shooters go hot and cold, often at a moment’s notice and given how weak the Rebels defense has been this season, the minute their shots are not falling, they will make an exit from this tournament.
The Yellow Jackets on the other hand have looked outstanding, both on offense and defense in their first two games of the tournament. Georgia Tech held Indiana to 37.9% shooting in the first win and Belmont to 33% shooting in the second win and ranks 13th nationally in field-goal percentage defense, holding teams to just 39.5% shooting from the field. What has been a pleasant surprise for the Georgia Tech has been their offense. The Yellow Jackets shot 55.2% after halftime in Sunday’s 71-57 victory over Belmont, scoring 41 points in the final 20 minutes to break open a close game. Quinton Stephens led the way with a career-high 23 points while Ben Lammers posted his 15th double-double of the season. Stephens is finishing his career on a high-note, averaging 18.3 points over his last three games while shooting 10 of 24 from 3-point range during that span. Lammers recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds against Belmont and enters Tuesday third in the nation in blocked shots per game, averaging 3.2 per contest.
This will be a classic offense vs defense matchup; however, we believe the Yellow Jackets are the more well-rounded and capable team. Ole Miss has been explosive on offense; however, their defense has left them vulnerable, surrendering 83 and 80 points respectively in their last two contests. These two teams are much closer than the odds make them appear and we wouldn't be surprised if the Yellow Jackets managed to win this game outright.
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