Middle Tennessee State and Tennessee meet tonight in the NIT quarterfinals. Now that we have a break from the NCAA Tournament, lets discuss how we can make some money off of the smaller teams.

While the NCAA tournament takes a short break before the Sweet 16, NCAA basketball bettors can still get some action in college hoops with the National Invitation Tournament. The NIT’s quarterfinals are almost set, and tonight, two Tennessee teams battle for the chance to make it into the NIT’s final eight teams. Take a look and see which team I like to cover the spread and which one I like to move on.

Lets preview this matchup and decide where us bettors should lay our NCAA Basketball picks.

MTSU mid major masters 

MTSU was very close to making it into the big dance this season, and they were by far good enough to do it. The Blue Raiders did not have enough to make it past Arkansas State in the Sun Belt tournament, but the 7th seed in the Sun Belt won it, so it wasn’t surprising in the big picture to see the number one seeded Blue Raiders go down. 

MTSU has a chance to gain some vengeance, as they face in state rival Tennessee tonight. The Volunteers are a number one seed, and were one of the first teams out of the big dance this March. The Blue Raiders come in as the fourth seed. MTSU beat Marshall 86-78 in the first round of the NIT. 

Middle is led by senior forward LaRon Dendy. After not playing last season, Dendy is accumulating some great stats during his senior season. Dendy has averaged almost 15 points per game, to go along with over seven boards a game, while shooting 53% from the field. Middle also gets great contributions from their pair of juniors Marcos Knight and JT Sulton, who combine to average over 21 points per game. 

Vols melt down 

Despite beating Florida twice and UConn once this season, the Vols lost their first game of the SEC tournament, and found themselves on the outside looking in. In overtime, they lost to Ole Miss in the second round of the SEC tournament, 77-72. 

Middle tennessee vs. TennesseeSophomore guard Trae Golden from Powder Springs, GA leads the Vols. Golden is an exceptional talent. He averages over 13 points per game, along with three rebounds and four assists per contest. He also shoots almost 40% from three-land. If UT wants to advance, Golden will have to shoot very close to these numbers, if not more. Behind the young guard, the Vols don’t have a ton of scoring. 

The Sharp Pick 

NCAA Basketball odds makers opened with the Volunteers favored by -5 ½ points, with a total of 135 points. Both of these teams have outstanding ATS records on the year. MTSU is 19-11 ATS, while Tennessee is 20-11-1 ATS on the year. As you can imagine, the Blue Raiders have not had much success playing the Vols in Knoxville. MTSU is 0-5 SU in their last five games against Tennessee.

This being said, I’m going against the grain with this one, and I’m going to be taking the points with MTSU. I think they finally have enough to at the very least keep this game close. I don’t think Tennessee is very excited to be in postseason play, and I think the Blue Raiders can go on the road and cover the +5 ½ points.

My Pick: Blue Raiders +5 ½