March 22, 2017
There is one pick tonight.
Take Central Florida -3 spread (buy the half point) against Illinois for 3% of the bankroll.
Illinois has had quite the solid run through the first two rounds of the NIT Tournament, easily breezing past both Valparaiso and Boise State to enter this semi-final match. Offense has been the main reason for the Illini's success in this tournament, however they will receive a stern test tonight against arguably the best defense they have seen all season long.
The UCF Knights come into this contest ranked 5th in the nation in points allowed, giving up just 61.1 points per game on average. They have been even tougher on their home floor where they give up a nation best 57.5 points. They have the best interior defense in the country, led by 7'6" Tacko Fall which means that in order for Illinois to find success tonight they are likely going to have to do it with their outside shooting. The problem for them is that as impressive as they have looked thus far in the tournament, they have certainly struggled on the road as they are averaging just 65.9 points per game on 42.4% shooting from the floor in true road games which is nearly a 7-point difference from their seasonal average.
UCF will also hold a major advantage on the glass in this contest as they have average nearly 10 rebounds per game over their opponents this season. The Knights are also coming off a dramatic come-from-behind road victory over the Illinois State Redbirds who had previously been undefeated on their home floor. It was an impressive display of defense which saw the Knights hold the Redbirds to just 26 second half points and rally back from nearly 20 points down on the scoreboard. That was a motivating and confidence building win for the Knights and now that they are back home, against a big-named opponent from the Big 10, we expect that motivation to carry over into this contest as the Knights' defense once again steals the show and UCF punches their tickets to the NIT Final Four.
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