Sometimes when you bet on a team, you aren’t really betting on them, you are betting against the other team. In the industry, we call this a fade. Yesterday, we faded the VCU Rams, on the road, against the Saint Louis Billikens. The Rams were in freefall, having lost four of their previous five games, and on the road this year against top-100 teams, they were 0-6.
So, when I saw them as road favorites against a top-100 Saint Louis team, I felt like backing the Billikens was free money. And it was. Saint Louis dominated the game throughout, leading by as many as twenty-two points in the second half. The Rams came out completely flat, and the assertion I made yesterday that Rams head coach Mike Rhoads has lost the locker room at this point, never looked more apparent.
— SLU Men's Basketball (@SaintLouisMBB) February 22, 2020
For VCU, the loss was devastating to the Rams NCAA tournament hopes. VCU has now lost five out of their last six games, and they would likely need to win the A-10 tournament to get into the NCAA tournament. The late-season collapse was hard to see coming as this team was 16-5 and seemingly a lock to go dancing just a couple of weeks ago.
For Saint Louis, they would still need a huge finish to sneak into the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid, but the win does put them into a position for a top-four seed in the A-10 tournament, and the double-bye that comes with it. Remember, the Billikens won the A-10 tournament last year as a six seed, so don’t count out the Billikens just yet. For today’s daily betting pick, we will head to the ACC, where the NC State Wolfpack play the Florida State Seminoles.
- Florida State Seminoles (22-4) at North Carolina State Wolfpack (17-9)
- PNC Arena, Raleigh
- 1:00 PM PST
- TV: ACCN
The North Carolina State Wolfpack are looking to build on their late-season momentum as they have won three out of their last four games, including beating Duke in their last game, tonight, as they host the Florida State Seminoles. The Wolfpack have gone from way outside the field of sixty-eighty, to right on the bubble, with this recent surge, and a win over a top-10 ranked Florida State team tonight would likely punch their dance tickets to the madness.
— NC State Men's Bball (@PackMensBball) February 22, 2020
For Florida State, the Seminoles have their sites set a little higher as they are looking for an ACC regular-season title and a potential top-line seed in March. The Noles have won fifteen out of their last seventeen games, including winning a stellar twelve out of their last fourteen league games. Florida State has road wins in the ACC against Louisville, Wake Forrest, Miami, and Virginia Tech, and will look to add to that collection of road wins tonight in Raleigh.
Florida State Seminoles
I think this Florida State team is a Final Four caliber squad. And for one main reason, defense. Leonard Hamilton’s team forces a ton of turnovers, and no team in the country can play their set offense against them. They average over nine steals a game, and their turnover ratio is one of the highest in the nation at 3.5-1. Even against elite teams, they still force a lot of turnovers.
Against Duke, they forced the Blue Devils into twenty-one turnovers. Against Virginia, they forced seventeen. And against Louisville, they forced sixteen. Kenpom has them as the fifteenth best defense in the country in terms of efficiency, but in terms of game flow, and forcing a team to fight for every bucket, they might be the best. Their ability to control the game on the defensive side of the floor has led to top-100 wins over Florida, Tennessee, Purdue, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Not many people were talking about this NC State team in terms of an at-large bid at the start of February. On February 1st, they were just 14-8 overall and had lost three straight games, including bad losses to Georgia Tech and North Carolina. But the Wolfpack have started to figure things out here late in the season as they have won three out of their last four games, including a beatdown of Duke.
Against the Blue Devils, NC State dominated the entire game and won by twenty-two points. Markell Johnson had the biggest games of his career as he dropped twenty-eight points, including going 5-6 from deep, in the win. The Duke win got them back on the NCAA tournament radar, but when you look at the full body of work for NC State, they also have quality wins over Wisconsin, UNC Greensboro, Notre Dame, Clemson, Virginia, and Syracuse.
Who Do I Like?
I rarely back road favorites in league play. It is just a very dicey scenario, and usually, the value comes in backing the home underdogs in conference play. But three things make me believe that backing Florida State is the play in this game.
First, the line is just one point. So, really, we aren’t laying any wood here, we just need Florida State to win the game outright. When you are laying wood on the road, every point matters, and the fact that we are laying just one point, doesn’t scare me away.
The second major factor making me want to back Florida State, is just how accomplished this team is this season. During this tear through the ACC, they have just two losses. One against Duke, the other against Virginia, both on the road. This team just doesn’t slip up against inferior competition.
And third, this is a classic let down spot for NC State. The win over their in-state rival Duke was huge. Is there any way that they can match that intensity tonight? I doubt it. You hate to ever think a team will come out flat at home, but between the fact that they have spent all week hearing their names talked about in the media as an all of the sudden potential tournament team, and this Florida State suffocating defense, I see a lot of early mistakes for NC State.
I know NC State is playing well right now, and they are at home, but I just don’t think they are going to be able to score efficiently enough to win this game. I think the Seminoles force them into lots of turnovers and bad shots. And while you never expect a team to get blown out of their home floor, this game could get out of hand.
At home three weeks ago, against Louisville, a team with a similarly aggressive defense, NC State scored just fifty-seven points and got blown out. Against North Carolina, at home, the game before that, they scored just sixty-five points and lost by double digits. I am not going to let the big fluky win over Duke distract me from the fact that Florida State is the far superior team in this matchup. Give me the Florida State Seminoles as small road favorites tonight in Raleigh!