Need your Monday basketball fix? Try the NIT

By Greg Peterson  ( 

Washington (plus 10.5) at St. Mary's

Hitting the road to play a 29-win team is typically not easy, but for Washington to be catching 10.5 points in this spot is too many.

The Huskies have had some  letdowns, losing five times this season by more than 10 points, but St. Mary's plays at one of the slowest paces in the country.

Washington certainly is not a team that jumps out on offensive and defensive efficiency numbers, but it is a respectable team on the road, going 5-5 with wins over USC and Kansas in double-digit upsets.

St. Mary’s has 22 wins by more than 10 points this season, but it plays lesser foes. That said, Jock Landale will be the most talented big man on the floor and Emmett Naar is a senior point guard that notches 7.9 assists per game.

Peterson's pick: Washington is a bit of a heat-check team from beyond the arc on offense and could throw the Gaels for a loop on defense with its zone defense. If the Gaels cannot adapt to a defense they do not see often, the Huskies will hang around and perhaps pull the upset.

Western Kentucky at USC (-4)

USC is without Chimezie Metu for the NIT, but was able to get by UNC-Asheville in its first game and has a chance to get to the NIT Elite Eight against Western Kentucky.

Western Kentucky has had a solid season, which includes an upset of Purdue, but it has one of the lowest 3-point rates in the country. It will be tough for USC to defend against Hilltoppers. Small forward Justin Johnson has tremendous versatility, but USC has the more talented team and does a better job of taking care of the ball.

Peterson's pick: USC has been going to a four-guard lineup given the shorter rotation, but it should still be able to get the job done. Nick Rakocevic needs to stay out of foul trouble or else the Trojans might be in trouble. But he has not fouled out since December and picked up just one foul while posting 24 points and 19 rebounds in USC's last game.

LSU at Utah (-4)

Teams have traditionally struggled when playing at elevation against Utah and the Utes will look to punch a ticket to the NIT Elite Eight against LSU.

LSU is 30th in the country in offensive efficiency and is an above-average free throw-shooting team, but it is significantly worse on the road than at home.

Both teams are outside the nation's top 200 in rebound rate and have good assist- to-turnover ratios. But LSU has more overall team size and both have smaller guards as scoring leaders.

Both teams' 3-point rates are above the D1 average, but Utah's is in the top 25 in the nation.

Peterson's pick: The elevation is a huge x-factor and could hurt LSU late in the game. Utah's conditioning and home court could be the difference and lead the Utes to a win and cover.

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