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Sports Betting Notebook : 3/21/2011
JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK
NIT TRIPLEHEADER MAKES
The NCAA Tournament is off until Thursday, when the Sweet 16 starts in New Orleans and Anaheim. We'll resume our Big Dance coverage in our Thursday report, looking at key indicator stats and running the boxscore numbers from this past weekend to look for handicapping clues.
These next three days will be devoted to the other college hoop tournaments, where teams from big name (and lesser known) conferences are still playing for pride and trophies.
Tonight, with our NIT Parlay Of The Year at hand, we're going to focus on the NIT's tripleheader of second round games. Five teams are already through to the third round after Saturday and Sunday action. Northwestern shocked one of the #1 seeds Boston College. College of Charleston has come through twice as road underdogs to grab one of the third round spots as well.
Let's see who might be joining them...
MISSOURI STATE (3) VS. MIAMI OF FLORIDA (2)
You get a sense of how bad the ACC was this year in that conference adjustment. Respected computers across the land said the ACC was only two points better than the Missouri Valley Conference! Should that be adjusted given what we've seen in the postseason? Tough call. There have definitely been some highlights for the ACC. Boston College losing in the NIT to Northwestern wasn't one of them...and Boston College was better than Miami of Florida. We'll have a better understanding after this game of course.
If you start with Missouri State as eight points better before the math...then give Miami two points for conference strength and four for home court...that's still Missouri as the better team. We'll definitely have to think about the underdog given that data. But, that being said, that 49% defense on two-pointers is a red flag warning sign. Do you want to take a road dog that's soft inside on defense?
The stats you'll be reading today largely come from Ken Pomeroy's great college basketball website (kenpom.com). Pomeroy adjusts possession data to reflect competition. The national average is around 66, so these teams are below average. Missouri State will try to force a slow tempo, and Miami will probably go with them. We'll think about the Under as a result. And, it's usually a good sign for a road dog if the home favorite will play at their pace.
We generally go against teams who rely too much on three-pointers in postseason action. But the HOME floor is the time to be careful with that. They're used to that shooting backdrop, which means that three-point reliance isn't necessarily a negative. On a neutral court, this would be a bonus edge for Missouri State. On the road, it may be the stat that brings them down.
We'll be talking with our Missouri Valley and ACC sources before making a final decision. Once again this year, motivation has been a huge factor in determining who wins and covers. A few disinterested favorites are already out of the brackets.
NEW MEXICO (4) VS. ALABAMA (1)
Alabama just missed making the Dance, and Georgia just barely got in. Georgia didn't embarrass themselves in a close loss to a Washington team that almost beat North Carolina. Florida and Kentucky are in the Sweet 16. Tennessee and Vanderbilt underachieved by a good bit. A mixed bag for the SEC, but more good than bad.
The math is very close to Vegas here. Alabama was +1.6 in terms of margin differential in conferences that were dead even. Give them 3-4 points for home court, and you're in the -4.5 to -5.5 range right there. Once again, the road underdog has the lesser of the two defenses. And, here, the home team has a GREAT defense. Tough to post a 41% no matter what conference you're playing in. Alabama has a significantly better inside defense.
Again, two teams who are slightly below average. We don't expect a run and gun pace. Alabama is slow with a great defense, which should allow them to impose their preferred style on the game. New Mexico won't mind. Another spot to think about the Under.
Alabama is very much an inside team...and they're facing a defense that doesn't have a great two-point defense. That's certainly something that will loom large in our decision process. If the officiating is friendly, which is known to happen to top seeds at home in the NIT because they want a strong Final Four...the Lobos could be very much behind the eight-ball.
Once again, nothing gets set in stone until we talk to our guys in the field and our Wise Guy connections in Las Vegas and offshore. The matchup analysis is friendly to the home favorite.
OKLAHOMA STATE (3) VS. WASHINGTON STATE (2)
These are the 2-3 teams in Boston College's quarter of the draw, which means tonight's winner will host a quarterfinal game against fourth seed Northwestern to determine who goes to New York. That should have the players' attention!
Washington State is the only fast team playing tonight. Playing at home should help them influence tempo in a favorable way. But, Oklahoma State is used to seeing some talented Big 12 teams who don't mind running and attacking the basket. It's not like the Cowboys will be dramatically overmatched if they show up with energy and confidence. If they DON'T show up with energy and confidence, things could get nasty.
On a neutral court, this is a plus for Oklahoma State in our view. But, with a team that scores close to 30% of its points on treys playing at home...this is another way the game could get out of reach quickly. Oklahoma State will have to guard the perimeter aggressively, and stay focused for the full 40 minutes if they want to ultimately represent the Big 12 in the Big Apple.
We'll talk more about the NIT Tuesday and Wednesday. If time and space permit, we'll catch up with the Insider and CBI too. Look for expanded previews (today's categories plus boxscore summaries) Thursday and Friday for the Sweet 16 games in the Big Dance. You need to read the NOTEBOOK every day so you know what's REALLY happening in the tournaments!
And, for BIG JUICY WINNERS in the college tournaments and the NBA, link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK here at the website. Game day releases go up a few hours before first tip (no more morning sessions on weekdays now until baseball starts). We have great rates for the full season too. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.
The preliminaries may be in the books. MUCHO MADNESS REMAINS!
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