Last night saw a lot of disinterested home teams in the NIT fall by the wayside. Will UCF suffer a similar fate, or will the defensive brilliance of the Knights be too much for the Colorado Buffaloes?
We started the NCAA Tournament 0-1 as Kansas State found offense uncharacteristically easy against the porous Wake Forest defense (their issue all season long) in a 93-86 victory to kick off the real potion of the NCAAA Tournament. However a 2-1 ATS NIT day balanced the scales and has us close to even as we move forward tonight.
I am staying off the NCAA games tonight. USC vs. Providence is a toss-up to me, in fairness, I just don’t have a strong read either way so am going to leave that game on the buffet table. There will be plenty more to eat over the next 96 hours. Instead, I am heading back to the NIT when some home courts can skew things in a positive fashion and create some little more advantageous lines.
It was a pretty good day for small-school road teams in the NIT overall, bringing into obvious focus the “want-to” aspect of this tournament. Schools like Cal, Utah, Clemson and Alabama – teams holding NCAA hopes as recently as five days ago, PLAYED like teams who were unhappy to even be there. All summarily lost. NIT recent history is littered with similar stories (“Bobby Mo” over Kentucky, anyone??), so it is definitely worth keeping an eye on with NIT wagers.
Today’s College Basketball Pick:
Colorado Buffalos at UCF Knights -2.5
The UCF Knights are the best defensive team in the country NOT to make the NCAA Tournament and rank in the top five in most defensive metrics in the entire nation. They are more than just 7’6’’ center Tacko Fall, though he is a big part of the funneling-frustration House of Mirrors that Johnny Dawkins’ squad unfolds on poor unsuspecting foes. They have some big time home wins this season as well including Cincinnati two weeks ago to get them to a nice 13-3 home record.
Meanwhile, the Buffaloes streak of NCAA Tourney berths came to a halt this season, thanks in large part to a 4-8 road record. That mark alone makes tonight problematic. You can say “well, Colorado plays in a much better league” but outside the Top Three in the Pac-12, the competition wasn;t leaps and bounds better than the top half of the AAC which included SMU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, Tulsa, and UCF.
I think the Knights are also EXCITED to be here far more than major conference teams tend to be. This is a young team that sees this year as a building block for the program and a launching pad into 2017-2018. I expect them to play enthusiastically and with great defensive energy. They are a good home team that has fared well against a reasonable schedule. Don’t let the Pac-12/AAC disparity throw you, this game is UCF’s to lose.
Today’s Pick: UCF Knights -2.5