Willie’s NCAAB season picks record: 25-18-2 (+6.05 units)
Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Free NCAAB Pick: Indiana State ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
It’s not uncommon to see quick rematches on the NCAA basketball odds card between conference foes, but it is rare to have them between non-conference opponents like we have in the finals of the Diamond Head Classic on Christmas Night when the Indiana State Sycamores and TCU Horned Frogs square off for the second time in nine days.
Action from Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu offers the Sycamores a chance to exact revenge against the Horned Frogs, who are double-digit favorites. Anyone looking to play the scoreboard is faced with a decision in the upper-140s.
Frogs Have Covered 7 Straight Since Lone Loss
Indiana State reached the championship game after wins over Colorado and UNLV this past weekend, each victory as the underdog. Jordan Barnes starred for the Sycamores in both wins, netting 19 and connecting on five of his eight 3-point attempts in a 72-67 triumph against the Buffaloes on Saturday as 8-point dogs. Getting 2½ against the Rebels on Sunday, Indiana State led wire-to-wire in an 84-79 decision as Barnes scored a game-high 28 on 11-of-15 shooting with the Sycamores sinking nearly 51% of their field goals.
Texas Christian dominated Charlotte and Bucknell to get to the title tilt, scoring 82 points in each victory. The Frogs first took down the 49ers, 82-57, as 20-point chalk at Heritage in the final game on Saturday’s tournament slate, then pulled away from the Bison on Sunday, 82-65, as all five starters scored in double figures to cover a -12½ spread. Jamie Dixon’s troops fell from the rankings after Thanksgiving following an upset loss at home to Lipscomb, but have since won and covered seven straight games as the favorites.
Can Sycamores Adjust To TCU’s Perimeter Defense?
Their meeting nine days ago in Fort Worth closed with the Horned Frogs laying 15 at home in the eventual 90-70 victory. The score was knotted four minutes into the first half before TCU went on a 16-2 run to all but decide matters. The Sycamores, who lead the country in 3-point shooting (48.2%), converted on just 3-of-16 from beyond the arc, and were playing at full strength for the first time the season after Cooper Neese and Christian Williams became eligible. The only other meeting between the schools took place in November 1999, Indiana State scoring an 89-77 win in Fairbanks.
The biggest factor Tuesday is how well Greg Lansing and the Sycamores work around TCU’s defense, especially out on the perimeter. I believe they will do well enough to stay inside the spread for my free NCAA basketball pick.