Did you know that the first college basketball conference tournament starts on Monday? The Northeast Conference will lift the lid on 32 conference tournaments that run from Monday through March 13. It is a great time of year and I’ll do what I can to provide my insights, while also getting you prepped for our March Madness Betting Guide.
I talked a bit about conference tournaments and how they relate to some games at the end of the regular season, so I encourage you to give that a read after you check out today’s Blurb on some rematches of interest.
South Dakota State Jackrabbits (-3, 166.5) at Oral Roberts Golden Eagles - The Jackrabbits are going to be a team nobody wants to face in the NCAA Tournament, assuming they can navigate the Summit League Conference Tournament. They enter this game 16-0 in league play, but got a bit of a scare from Oral Roberts way back on Dec. 22 in an 82-76 win. ORU was 13-of-42 from 3 in that game, while SDSU was just 6-of-16, but the Jackrabbits came away with the win.
In that game, Oral Roberts had one free throw attempt to 20 for the opposition. As a jump-shooting team, the Golden Eagles don’t get to the line much, but both offenses are elite when it comes to shooting. This is an enormous total with two teams that don’t foul a lot. While SDSU plays at a quick pace and shoots 3s better than anybody in the country, they don’t take a lot of them. I think the first game, which had a total of 165.5 after opening 162.5, is a good indicator. As scary as it is, I like the under here.
Belmont Bruins at Murray State Racers (-3, 144.5) - This is a rematch I have been waiting for. The Bruins don’t get blown out often, and certainly don’t get blown out at home often, but Belmont lost by 22 at home in the first meeting against Murray State. The Racers held the nation’s second-best 2P% offense to .916 points per possession in that game. In 29 games, that has only happened six times, against LSU, Dayton, Saint Louis, Murray State, Morehead State and in a huge lookahead spot last game against SIU-Edwardsville.
In that Jan. 15 game, Belmont was -6 at home with a total of 148.5, so we’ve seen a huge spread adjustment. Murray State outscored Belmont by 27 points from beyond the arc. The 14 3-pointers allowed by Belmont are the second-most of the season and Belmont’s five made 3s are the second-fewest of the season. Murray State just might be that good, but I would think Belmont has a better performance. I lean with the Bruins.
UC Irvine Anteaters (-1.5, 129.5) at Cal State Fullerton Titans - Fullerton upset Irvine in the first meeting back on Jan. 20 by a 65-63 score. The Anteaters were 5.5-point favorites at home with a total of 133. Fullerton had 28 free throw attempts that led to 22 points. Irvine had three free throw attempts that led to two points and this was not a case of fouling to extend the game. The Titans also took 32 mid-range jumpers per Bart Torvik’s box score out of 38 2-point shots, so it wasn’t like they were getting to the rim a lot to draw calls.
Fullerton was also 1-of-13 from 3 and managed to hit 17 of those 32 mid-range jumpers, so it was a strange game, but I look at Irvine as the better team and a tough-luck loser in that first game. I like the Anteaters tonight.