Big West Semifinals Equal Big-Time Value Betting the Total

Jay Pryce

Friday, March 9, 2018 1:15 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 9, 2018 1:15 PM UTC

The top four seeds in the Big West Tournament tussle in the semifinals Friday at Honda Center, as No. 4 Cal State Fullerton takes on No. 1 UC Davis (9:30 p.m. ET) and No. 3 UC Irvine clashes with No. 2 UC Santa Barbara (11:59 p.m. ET). Both matchups present big betting value on the game total.

Cal State Fullerton vs. UC Davis

Cal State Fullerton (18-11 SU, 16-9 ATS) snapped a 7-game Big West tourney losing streak to Long Beach State on Thursday, winning 76-74 in a frenzied final 30 seconds. The 49ers missed four shots in their final two possessions with a failed tip-in attempt at the buzzer. The Titans, outrebounded 38-29, held Long Beach State to 22 of 63 (34.9 percent) from the floor. The result should not have been so close. Here's some highlights from the thrilling encounter:

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HIGHLIGHTS from our 76-74 win over Long Beach State to advance to the semifinal of the @BigWestMBB Tournament. #TusksUp

— Titans Men's Basketball (@FullertonHoops) March 9, 2018

Strong defensive efforts have characterized CSU-Fullerton's play all year against Big West foes. Although the unit ranks 164th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings, it’s allowing a 42.2 opponent shooting rate in conference. The Titans' effective field-goal rate (48.1) is tied for 54th lowest nationally. It has helped the ‘under’ go 12-4-1 in this situation.

UC Davis (22-9 SU, 16-10 ATS), co-second choice at +290 to win the championship, has coasted to six straight victories courtesy of some superior shot-stopping abilities of its own. Although two contests ventured into overtime, the Aggies are allowing just 62.5 points per game in regulation time during the run. The unit is above average in all aspects of defending, but excels at slowing the fast break. It yields just 18.3 percent of opponent shots in transition, the 54th lowest rate in the country.

Defense defines both teams — and the series in general — under coaches Jim Les (Davis) and Dedrique Taylor (Fullerton). In 11 meetings, the Titans average 42.3 percent and the Aggies 42.5 percent shooting overall. Although Fullerton looks to up the pace more than Davis, the Aggies tend to dictate the tempo with the pair combining for 138.1 points per game. Look for oddsmakers to open the game total in the low 140s. Pick ‘under’ for the value. It is a race to 70 points and neither will likely get there.

Free NCAAB Pick: UnderBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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UC Irvine vs. UC Santa Barbara

Look for UC Santa Barbara (23-8 SU, 19-9 ATS) to open around a 1- to 2-point favorite with a total in the mid-to-high 130s. The Gauchos went off pre-tournament favorites to win it all at +225 odds; UC Irvine (17-16 SU, 14-14 ATS) co-second choice at +290.

If you like good X’s and O’s basketball, Santa Barbara delivers. First-year head coach Joe Pasternack runs a highly-efficient motion offense that prizes every possession. The Gauchos’ 1.49 assist-to-turnover rate is the 12th highest among all Division I programs. Their 112.5 points per 100 possessions is tops in the Big West.

Generating open looks and executing from long range is the key. Santa Barbara owns a 38.6 3-pointer percentage. When up against conference foes yielding 32.5 percent or more from the area for the year, it is 9-3 SU and ATS overall. Irvine just makes the cut with a 32.6 percent rate.

The Anteaters are defense-first, owning the most efficient unit in the conference. Its 44.6 opponent effective field-goal rate is the fifth lowest in the country. No team, in fact, is better at protecting the paint. Literally. Irvine also owns a 44.6 opponent field-goal rate at the rim, tops in the nation. Don’t expect many easy put-backs for the Gauchos.

This matchup can get downright ugly to watch for the neutral fan or bettor. The last 12 have seen at least one team put up fewer than 63 points in each. The average combined score in this stretch is 128.1 points. Pick ‘under’ four your best bet of the day in this late-night tip-off.

Free NCAAB Pick: UnderBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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