This marks the 11th year of the NCAA Tournament kicking off the festivities with the first four play-in games. Not only that, we can’t forget about little brother, aka the NIT Tournament. While all eyes are set on brackets for the NCAA Tournament, we found some value on the NIT games for this evening as well. These are the teams that missed out on a bid for the dance by a slim margin and motivation is typically a big factor in games early on in the NIT. Some teams are still deflated from the missed opportunity and pack it in while others are relishing the opportunity to continue playing.
Let’s take a look at our best bets from both the first-four and the NIT board for Tuesday night's CBB slate.
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Indiana finished the regular season 20-13 and lost to Iowa in the semi-finals of the Big 10 tournament. Trayce Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers all season and played at an even heightened level during the conference tournament. The redshirt sophomore led the Hoosiers in scoring and rebounding with 18.1ppg and 8.2rpg. However, his presence on the defensive end was an even bigger factor in the Hoosiers conference tourney run. He blocked a total of 7 shots in 3 games which was right at his 2.4bpg average on the season.
The Cowboys of Wyoming finshed 25-8 on the year and were bounced by the regular season and conference tournament champions of the Mountain West, Boise State. Graham Ike, like his counterpart tonight (Trayce Jackson-Davis), a sophomore forward who can score and rebound with the best of them. He is averaging 19.6ppg and 9.6rpg and will set up a game within the game as he goes head-to-head with Jackson-Davis.
Here are some of the key betting trends for this first four matchup between the Hoosiers and Cowboys:
In terms of statistical analysis, there is not much that separates these teams, which should lead to a very entertaining play-in game and might give the Gaels of St. Mary’s who will play the winner, a bit of apprehension. We are going with the Hoosiers in this one and believe that Jackson-Davis is going to rise again to the occasion. The Hoosiers ranked 1st in Big 10 play in defensive efficiency and that should bode well for them against a Wyoming team that struggled against a good Boise St defense.
The Cleveland State Vikings finished 1st in the Horizon League with a 20-10 overall record. However, they fell short of their goal of winning their conference tournament when they got dominated by Wright State 82-67. D’Moi Hodge is the main man for the Vikings. He averaged 15.5ppg and shot 48.8% from the field on the season.
Xavier comes into this game after a really disappointing final stretch of their season. After starting out 11-1, they finished the season 7-12 for an overall 18013 record. As a higher seed, they lost in overtime to Butler, who they had beaten in both of their regular-season meetings. Junior forward Jack Nunge did all he could, scoring 24 points and grabbing 9 boards in the loss. He led the Musketeers in scoring on the season with 13.1 ppg and shot over 50% for the season.
This is simply too many points to be giving a solid Vikings team. I do not expect this Xavier team to come out inspired at all after their early exit from the Big East tournament. The Vikings will use their ability to score inside the arc (19th in nation) to cause the Musketeers fits. Xavier gets the win and advances, but by single digits.
The Bonnies underachieved all season long and I expect that to carry here into the NIT. This is a great matchup for the Buffaloes as they rank 30th in the country with a 3-point percentage of 37%. The Bonnies struggle defending the perimeter and that will be their downfall. Colorado makes it rain at home tonight, get the easy win, and cover the 4 point spread.