According to NCAA Tournament betting odds, St. Louis is a 2.5 point favorite and the posted total is 130.0. St. Louis finished 1st in the Atlantic 10 regular season standings, but was upset by St. Bonaventure in the conference tournament quarterfinals. NC State finished tied for 7th in the ACC regular season standings, and advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament before losing to Duke.
Tourney Start for the Wolfpack
NC State was involved in one of the four NCAA Tournament play-in-games. The Wolfpack were very impressive in a 74-59 win over the Xavier Musketeers from the Atlantic 10 on Tuesday evening. They shot a sizzling 54.7% from the field, and were pretty much in control of the game throughout. Once again they were led in scoring by the ACC Player of the Year T.J. Warren who scored 25-points, in addition to 5-rebounds, 3-steals, and 2-assists. In his last 9-games Warren has averaged a superb 29.8 points per game, including a pair of 40-point plus efforts. NC State has gone 5-1 in their last 6-games and has covered the number in all 6 of those contests.
down the Stretch
St. Louis enters the NCAA Tournament with a multitude of question marks. Despite putting together a stellar season of 26-6, they’ve lost 4 of their last 5-games. On a positive note they will be playing with 5-days of rest, and will be facing an opponent (NC State) with just 1-day of rest, in addition of having to travel from Dayton, Ohio to Orlando, Florida. The one thing the Billikens can certainly hang their hat on is their stellar defensive play. They’re 18th nationally in scoring defense allowing just 61.2 points per game, 2nd in field goal percentage defense at 39.9%, and their three-point field goal percentage defense is the best in the nation at 28.4%. The Billikens have gone under the total in 19 of 28-games this season when there was a posted total. They’ve also gone a dismal 1-8 ATS in their last 9-games.
In my prior article at sbrforum.com titled NCAA Tournament Betting: Midwest Region Picks & Predictions, I projected the winner of the Xavier/NC State game to upset St. Louis in the 2nd round. I’ve found no reason to change my mind in that regard, and as a matter of fact I feel even more confident after watching the Wolfpack’s dominant performance during the NCAA Tournament play-in-game. Although the Atlantic 10 received 6-bids to the “Big Dance”, you would be hard pressed to convince me that it’s a stronger conference than the ACC. We’re also fading a favorite who’s struggled mightily down the stretch. I’m sticking to my guns in taking the #12 over the #5 seed in the Midwest.
Free Pick: NC State +2.5 over St. Louis