We notched another college hoops winner last night with UCF’s thrilling second half comeback to knock off the Illinois State Redbirds and advance to the Regional Finals of the NIT. The Knights and their vaunted defense will host Illinois later this week for a trip to Madison Square Garden. The first two NIT Quarterfinals will commence tonight with #6 Richmond visiting #4 TCU and #6 Georgia Tech travelling to #5 Ole Miss as the suddenly-chesty SEC looks to get another triumph over the more highly-lauded ACC.
I know, the NIT doesn’t move the needle like an NCAA Tournament game, and many (most?) of you are not tuning in. You are taking a few days to detox after the overdose of college hoops invaded your life over the weekend (or is that just me?). But that doesn’t mean we can’t grab a few more winners to pad the roll for a nice big Sweet Sixteen weekend.
Here’s my favorite play on tonight’s limited college hoops schedule.
Today’s College Basketball Pick:
#6 Richmond Spiders at #4 TCU Horned Frogs -7.5 — NIT QUARTERFINALS
Richmond is a pretty anonymous team, coming from the Atlantic 10 conference and lacking any sort of national profile. But the Spiders have been a pretty good team this season, and an even better wager. They are 17-12-1 ATS on the season and went 13-6 ATS inside conference play. They are a very impressive 9-4 ATS on the road this season as well – a place where most non-Tourney teams really struggle. By contrast, TCU went just 5-5 ATS at home in conference and 9-12 ATS overall.
Richmond also has some decent results on their overall resume. They have close losses to Maryland, Wake Forest and Texas Tech, wins over Boston College, Davidson and Rhode Island and went 8-5 straight-up on the road this season.
Meanwhile, TCU harbored NCAA Tournament dreams for a while, especially after an early win over Iowa State and non-con wins over Illinois State and Washington. But a seven-game slide late in conference played sealed their fate (and was a likely regression to the true mean), though a Big Twelve Tournament upset win over Kansas got them back into solid NIT footing (Josh Jackson was suspended for that game, FYI).
TCU isn’t a BAD team, but I’m not sure I’d lay close to double-digits on them against many foes. Even in their wins, they usually played closer games aside from a few blowouts over beleaguered Oklahoma and Texas. Meanwhile, in Richmond’s losses, they always competed.
Seven and a half is a pretty big pile of points in a pretty evenly-matched contest. Especially given how irrelevant home court advantage has been in this year’s NIT, I’ll take the points gladly.
Today’s Pick: Richmond Spiders +7.5