It’s the start of the tournament today, whether or not you’re paying attention. What’s more, there’s more than one tournament getting going today, as the NIT also kicks off tonight. With the NIT, motivation is a key to deciding your bet. The NCAA won’t have this problem, as everyone wanted to be there and will be giving its best, but the NIT is a different beast. For some teams, it’s a consolation prize that genuinely matters, while others aren’t that concerned and just want to get the season over with.
That’s why you need to think critically when you’re looking at NIT picks. Granted, you should do that anyway, but it’s even more important now. Here are my top plays for March 15.
TEXAS A&M CORPUS CHRISTI TTU 66.5, -110
The Islanders are not good. They haven’t beaten anyone in the top 200 all year per KenPom. Texas Southern is actually a fairly decent mid-major team that plays excellent defense, and they’ve been in this game before. The Tigers know how to handle Dayton and should be able to squeeze the life out of the Islanders and advance to their date with Kansas.
WASHINGTON STATE TTU 78.5, -110
Santa Clara’s defense isn’t anywhere near poor enough to give up 78 to the Cougars unless the Broncos just have a bad day. In fact, I think Santa Clara can actually win this game, as the Broncos gave a credible showing against Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga in the regular season (and won a game against Saint Mary’s). If the Broncos could hold Gonzaga to 81 in Spokane, I don’t see Washington State getting to 79 in Pullman.
ST. BONAVENTURE-COLORADO U138.5, -110
This seems unlikely. St. Bonaventure usually struggles to get into the 60s away from Olean. Now they’re supposed to get to around 66 at elevation against Colorado? Don’t see that happening, which means you’re either counting on the Buffaloes to do the scoring or you’re betting the under here. Even if Colorado gets to 70, St. Bonaventure still needs to do its share of the scoring, and I doubt that occurs. This looks tailor-made for an under.
ALCORN STATE TTU 61, -110
The Braves are not a good offensive team and are likely to find the going rough against Texas A&M, especially given that the Aggies are playing their best basketball and want to make amends for how the SEC final went against Tennessee. Texas A&M should have no problem keeping Alcorn’s weak offense quiet.
WYOMING-INDIANA U132, -110
Yes, I’m going with a lot of unders tonight. That’s what tends to happen when you get defensive-minded squads who don’t know their opponent well at all. Indiana is not going to push the pace in this one; the Hoosiers are going to try to work the ball inside. The same is true for the Cowboys, who don’t hit a ton of 3s. Look for a slower-paced battle here.