Florida State & Valparaiso 'Under' In NIT Is Our NCAA Basketball Pick

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, March 17, 2016 2:58 PM GMT

Valparaiso was snubbed by the NCAA Tournament committee, but the Crusaders have one of the best defenses in the country, which could key an ‘under’ vs. Florida State in the NIT.

 

While everyone is focusing on the NCAA Tournament, and understandably so, we actually see nice ‘under’ value in the lone NIT contest Thursday night when the Florida State Seminoles (20-13, 13-15-1 ATS) out of the ACC pay a visit to the defensive minded Valparaiso Crusaders (27-6, 15-14-1 ATS) at the Athletics Recreation Center in Valparaiso, IN at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPNews.

The posted total at Heritage is 147½ for this contest with the current NCAA Basketball odds on the ‘under’ set at -105.

 

Passed Over for NCAA Bid
We personally had Valparaiso as literally our last team in the NCAA Tournament field, but the selection committee disagreed so the Crusaders had to be content with this NIT bid following a 26-6 season. Well, at least Valpo did not seem disheartened as it opened up this tournament with an 84-73 win over Texas Southern here at home on Tuesday.

Florida State looked like an NCAA team over the first half of the season, but it underwhelmed the rest of the way while underachieving relative to the talent it has on paper. Still, the Seminoles were also winning NCAA Basketball picks in their first NIT game Tuesday 84-74 over Davidson, although that contest was back home in Tallahassee.

 

Great Defense for Crusaders
Valparaiso may hail from the Horizon League, but it rarely embarrasses itself when taking on Power 5 conference schools either. On the last three such occasions, the Crusaders nearly upset Maryland in the NCAA Tournament last year before succumbing 65-62, and then this year they first lost by just six points on the road 73-67 visiting an Oregon team that is a number one seed in the Big Dance right now, and they then beat Oregon State outright 63-57 on the road.

This time, the Crusaders get a Power 5 team at home, which has not happened since back in 2010 when their Indiana rivals Purdue came to town, and furthermore this is the first time ever that an ACC team has visited Valparaiso, which should lead to a terrific mid-major atmosphere.

Revisiting those last three matchups for Valpo vs. major-conference schools; one thing those games had in common was that the Crusaders were successful in turning those contests “ugly.” You see, the Valparaiso defense is currently ninth in the county in points against at 62.5 per game, fifth in field goal percentage allowed at 38.3 percent and 14th in defensive efficiency, and the Crusaders proved over those three games that their game translates well vs. Power 5 teams.

Also, Valpo is a team that plays at its own pace offensively ranking 260th in the country in adjusted tempo rating, and we see no reason why this cannot be yet another slow-paced contest conducive to an ‘under’.

 

Seminoles Stumbled Down the Stretch
The Seminoles are simultaneously athletic and big, in fact ranking sixth in the country in average height at 78.7 inches, but yet this team stumbled down the stretch losing five of its last seven regular season games. Then, after beating a Boston College team that finished winless in ACC play in the opening round of the ACC Tournament, the Noles were sent to this NIT with a 96-85 loss to Virginia Tech despite being five-point favorites in that game.

Granted, the Seminoles are averaging a good 78.3 points per game on 46.6 percent shooting this year, but they have not shot the ball as well on the road at just 43.2 percent including a dismal 33.2 percent from beyond the three-point arc, and when you add in the quality of the Valparaiso defense, this game could be a struggle offensively for Florida State.

Yes, the Noles have a dynamic young backcourt with Dwayne Bacon and Malik Beasley, who are both the top two scorers and rebounders on the team, and they also have a pair of seven-footers. However, both of those guards are freshmen, which could account for the uneven play down the stretch, and the fact that the two guards are also the top two rebounders on the team points to the pair of seven-footers not being aggressive enough.

 

Trending the ‘under’
Finally, Valparaiso has tended to buckle down defensively following disappointing efforts with the ‘under’ going 35-17 in the Crusaders’ last 52 games following an ATS loss. Meanwhile, the ‘under’ is also now 7-3 in Florida State’s last 10 non-conference games including the first round of this NIT.

With the Valparaiso defense expected to swarm all over a Power 5 opponent and with Florida State not shooting well on the road all season, look for those trends to continue with yet another ‘under’ in this NIT matchup on Thursday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 147
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker