Conference tournaments start next week and there will be plenty of rematches in those, so I’ll be sticking with this theme a little bit more as we move forward. I’m also hoping to write some conference tournament strategy stuff either for VSiN.com or Point Spread Weekly next week, as there are a lot of important concepts to know and apply to your wagering.
Otherwise, let’s look at the small slate for Friday and find some betting angles for the second go-round between these teams.
Northwestern Wildcats at Penn State Nittany Lions (-1.5, 129) - You may be looking at this total and wondering how it could be 127 when the first game back on Jan. 5 ended 74-70 in favor of Penn State. You may especially be wondering that given that the total for the first game was 130.
In that first game, it was a 63-63 game with 43 seconds left, so it was playing right to the number. The teams scored 18 points in the remaining 43 ticks to push it way over. Both teams actually shot pretty well overall, especially Northwestern, who was 12-of-26 from 3. The Wildcats have only made more 3s than that in two other games. This total is 128 at some shops, so this is more of a cautionary tale about why you need to apply context to the first game.
Texas State Bobcats (-2, 127.5) at Troy Trojans - Here’s another example of a “book and cover” situation. Texas State lost the first meeting by 15 back on Dec. 30 as a 6-point home favorite, yet the Bobcats are still laying a short road price here. Troy’s 1.203 points per possession from that game are the highest of the season against a Division I opponent.
The Trojans are 280th in eFG% offense, 344th in offensive TO%, 242nd in 3P% and 271st in 2P% in games against Division I opponents. Troy was 23-of-35 on 2s in that first game. I think the right side is favored and like Texas State today. The Bobcats are also 26th in the nation in TO% on defense and played below their average in the first game.
Manhattan Jaspers at Marist Red Foxes (-5, 139) - The first meeting between these two teams on Jan. 30 was interesting. Marist was a 1-point road favorite and lost 72-66 in a game that fell right on the closing total. In that game, Marist was 27-of-50 from the floor with a 61% eFG%, which ranks as one of the best of the season. Manhattan was 28-of-54, so the Jaspers shot well also.
The difference in the game was that Marist turned the ball over 22 times on just 67 possessions. It is still the highest TO% of the season for the Red Foxes. They’re laying a relatively small number here after an outlier performance. Even though the line has moved against them a little, I wouldn’t expect the same carelessness with the ball, nor would I expect Manhattan to get as many transition buckets. I like Marist here.