Favorites GW, La Salle Present First-Half Value in Atlantic 10 Openers

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 1:56 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 7, 2018 1:56 PM UTC

A pair of favorites present first-half value in the opening round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament on Wednesday, as La Salle takes on UMass and George Washington squares off against Fordham. Lines, picks, and previews here.

La Salle (-5) vs. Massachusetts

Since 2015, La Salle (13-18 SU, 10-20 ATS) is just 1-7 SU and ATS on a neutral court. What’s the problem? Shoddy defense. It has allowed six opponents to surpass their projected team total in the betting market, yielding 75.8 points per game on 49.0 percent shooting.

The Explorers have also let UMass (12-19 SU, 14-14 ATS) go 'over' the mark in four straight — though they were shorthanded in both matchups this season. Senior guard and team scoring leader B.J. Johnson (20.9 ppg) missed the first meeting due to injury, an 86-79 Minutemen win in overtime. La Salle avenged the loss with a 87-82 victory in late January without the services of guard Pookie Powell because of a knock to his knee. The junior is second in team scoring with 16.9 points per game.

UMass has seen its last 11 games go ‘over’ the total. A 159.0 average final score is soaring past a 141.2 total. Defense appears optional at this point. The Minutemen are surrendering 82.9 points per game on an unhealthy 52.2 percent shooting. Every opponent as sailed past its projected team total by a 10.2-point average.

UMass is also helping ‘over’ backers on offense in the above-mentioned stretch, particularly from long range. It is draining 43.9 percent from behind the arc. Look for a 3-point fest Wednesday. La Salle yields 37.9 percent from deep, ranking 316th nationally in opponent 3-pointer rate. The Minutemen will attempt to exploit.

If UMass can pull the upset here, expect a run late in the game. It has tipped off underdogs 11 times in A-10 competition this season and took a lead into halftime once. UMass went up 35-28 in an 86-82 overtime win hosting Dayton as 2.5-point pups on Feb. 3. With La Salle at full strength, expect it to jump all over a porous defense early. Lay the points in the first half with the Explorers.

Free NCAAB Pick: La Salle First HalfBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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George Washington (-6.5) vs. Fordham

George Washington (14-17 SU, 11-16 ATS) finished the regular season winning and covering the spread in four of its final six games. Stellar play by Yuta Watanabe is fueling the run. Over the last eight games, he’s averaging 21.8 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

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For the first time, the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year is a Colonial. Congrats to Yuta Watanabe on a monumental achievement! #RaiseHigh
📰 -> https://t.co/pH5rGfGZcZ pic.twitter.com/o8OsHlf1oa

— GW Men's Basketball (@GW_MBB) March 6, 2018

The 6-foot-9 senior was named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, registering 49 blocks and 25 steals on the year. Watanabe’s versatility is his best asset. The first Japan-born D-I player to ever receive a basketball scholarship can guard any position on the floor and will likely match up against Fordham’s best: 6-foot-6 Will Tavares (13.6 ppg). The winner of this duel will likely determine the winner of the game.

Fordham (9-21 SU, 7-19 ATS) went 4-14 SU and 5-13 ATS in A-10 play, falling to an 8.0 average line by 4.1 points per game. The offense proved ice cold much of the year, but really chilled late. The Rams put up a paltry 58.5 points per game on 39.1 percent from the floor in their final six games.

This is virtually a home game for the Colonials at Capital One Arena. Couple this with the fact they have won four straight opening-round games in the A-10 tourney and are 26-6 SU all-time in the Fordham series and a victory appears likely. The Rams, however, went 3-4 SU and ATS in seven conference games against opponents owing a -0.5 point differential or less entering a matchup, losing by just 5.0 points per game (70.1-65.1). GW’s average scoring margin is -3.0. Fordham will likely make this interesting late, but like in the UMass-La Salle write-up above, look for the Colonials to take a sizable lead early. Lay the points in the first half with the favorites.

For any live betting, lean UMass and Fordham to win the second halves. Check out SBR's March Madness Betting Headquarters for your best real-time options, and make it a daily stop this tournament season to receive the latest and greatest information, picks, and updated lines during the college basketball championships.

Free NCAAB Pick: GW First HalfBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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