NCAA Basketball Betting 3-Point Play: Three Interesting Opening Lines Wednesday
by Alan Matthews - 3/17/2015
For the first time in 28 years, a team will play an NCAA Tournament game in its own gym as Dayton hosts Boise State in the last of the First Four games on Wednesday. Why not just make the Flyers a slightly different seed so they don't have that advantage? NCAA Tournament committee chairman Scott Barnes said his group was handcuffed by the rules on that and hinted they might be changed going forward. "It is the last four teams selected [in the First Four], rather than last four teams on the seed list," Barnes said. "That is something we may review in the summertime." Here's a look at the two First Four games on Wednesday and one NIT matchup involving a team that shouldn't be there.
No. 8 Bucknell at No. 1 Temple (-12)
This NIT game tips off at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN3, and I'll be curious how invested in this that Temple is because the Owls really got hosed by the NCAA Tournament selection committee. ESPN's Bracketology had Temple among the "Last Four In." No way UCLA, Oklahoma State and Indiana deserve to be in more than the Owls. SI.com ranked Temple as the No. 1 snub, noting it had eight top-100 wins, including a 25-point victory against Kansas. Temple also was 31st in RPI and had just two bad losses.
The Owls (23-10) finished 13-5 in a good American Athletic Conference, losing to AAC's best team, SMU, 69-56 in the semifinals of the conference tournament. The league got just two teams in the NCAAs -- league champion SMU and Cincinnati -- while teams like Tulsa (22-10) and last year's national champion Connecticut (20-14) were relegated to the NIT. The Owls are making their 18th NIT appearance and first since 2006. Their best player is senior and first-team All-ACC member Will Cummings. He leads the team and ranks fifth in the AAC in scoring with a 14.2 ppg average while ranking fourth in assists (4.3 apg) and first in steals (2.0 spg). Bucknell (19-14) was the regular-season champion of the Patriot League but upset 80-74 at home by Lafayette in the semifinals of the conference tournament. By virtue of its first-place finish in the regular-season, Bucknell was an automatic qualifier for the 32-team NIT field. It's Bucknell's second NIT appearance, the other in 2012. Bucknell and Temple had two common opponents this season. The Owls beat American 40-37 while the Bison swept a pair of games (57-47 and 71-69) with the Eagles in Patriot League play. Bucknell and Temple both lost to Villanova -- the Bison by a 72-65 count and the Owls 85-62.
Temple and Bucknell haven't played since the 1981-82 season when they were members of the old East Coast Conference.
Key trends: The Bison are 5-12 ATS in their past 17 vs. teams with a winning record. They are 4-11 in their past 15 non-conference games. Temple is 6-1 ATS in its past seven at home. The Owls are 1-4 ATS in their past five after a loss.
Why take the underdog: I'm guessing Temple will be sluggish for a while in this one with the disappointment of being passed over for the NCAA Tournament.
No. 16 Robert Morris vs. No. 16 North Florida (-3, 138.5)
This NCAA Tournament First Four matchup is in Dayton at 6:40 p.m. on truTV. The winner gets the privilege of losing to Duke on Friday in Charlotte.
Robert Morris (19-14) is in the Big Dance for the eighth time and first since 2010 -- the school is 1-7 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. It finished second to St. Francis (NY) in the Northeast Conference in the regular season but then upset the Terriers 66-63 in their gym in the tournament championship game last Tuesday. St. Francis had a chance to tie with 2.4 seconds left when Tyreek Jewell, who scored 19 points, went to the line after being fouled shooting a desperation 3-pointer. However, he missed the first two free throws and then intentionally the third, with Robert Morris getting the rebound. The Colonials are led by junior guard Rodney Pryor, who is averaging 15.2 points and 4.7 rebounds per game and was named the 2015 NEC Tournament MVP. Their coach, Andrew Toole, is just 32, the sixth-youngest in Division I. North Florida (23-11) is in the NCAAs for the first time. The Ospreys were the regular-season champions of the Atlantic Sun and beat USC Upstate 63-57 in the tournament championship game. Demarcus Daniels picked a good time to have the best game of his career with a career-best 22 points off the bench. Daniels had never scored more than 17 points in his two seasons with the Ospreys. UNF is on a school-record eight-game winning streak. It played a few Power 5 teams during the regular season, including a 73-70 upset at Purdue on Dec. 6.
Key trends: Robert Morris is 5-1 ATS in its past six games. It is 2-6 ATS in its past eight out of conference. UNF is 8-2 ATS in its past 10 neutral-site games.
Why take the favorite: I like UNF's nonconference resume better.
No. 11 Boise State vs. No. 11 Dayton (-4, 126.5)
It's the final First Four matchup of the Big Dance at 9:10 p.m. ET (approx) on truTV, and it sure doesn't seem right that Dayton gets to play in its home gym. I guarantee you that Boise State backers aren't thrilled about it. The winner gets No. 6 Providence in Columbus on Friday. These were the final two at-large teams picked according to Fox Sports. I'd argue Temple belongs over both.
Boise State (25-8) is making its seventh NCAA appearance and first since 2013. It has yet to win a game. The Broncos finished second in the Mountain West's regular season to San Diego State and lost in overtime to eventual champion Wyoming in the conference tournament. Boise State has won in some tough environments this season, winning for the first time at UNLV, San Diego State, Utah State and New Mexico. Boise State lost arguably its best player, senior guard Anthony Drmic, one of the top scorers in school history, to injury just seven games into the season. The 11 seed is the highest for Boise State since the field expanded to 64 teams. Dayton (25-8) is 16-0 at home this season and doesn't have a single player taller than 6-foot-6. The Flyers are in the Big Dance for the 16th time and advanced to the regional final last year, losing to No. 1 overall seed Florida. Dayton finished second in the Atlantic 10's regular-season standings to Davidson and lost to VCU 71-65 in the A-10 Tournament final. Since 1989, teams haven't been allowed to play an NCAA Tournament game at their arena. The last time any did was 1987, when Arizona and Syracuse played on their home courts. The Flyers have won 21 straight at home dating to last year.
This is the first meeting between the schools.
Key trends: The Flyers are 5-2 ATS in their past seven vs. teams with a winning record. They are 1-5 ATS in their past six non-conference games. Boise State is 8-1 ATS in its past nine vs. teams with a winning record. It is 2-6 ATS in its past eight non-conference games.
Why take the favorite: Dayton can beat most anyone at home.
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