Going to the Dogs: Back Utah, Mississippi State in NIT Semifinals

Charles Stark

Tuesday, March 27, 2018 1:41 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 27, 2018 1:41 PM UTC

Western Kentucky takes on Utah, and Penn State battles Mississippi State in what should be tight NIT semifinal games tonight at New York's Madison Square Garden. The lines are small, so is there value in backing the underdogs in the ESPN doubleheader?

Western Kentucky vs. Utah (7 p.m. ET)Free NCAAB Pick: Utah +MLBest Line Offered: Intertops

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The college basketball odds board has Utah a small +1 underdog in this spot, and with my NCAAB picks I will take them on the plus moneyline to win this game straight up. Western Kentucky had a nice win at USC, and Utah handled business at St. Mary’s, but as far as these two matching up I think Utah is a little bit better across the board. Western Kentucky has been extremely good on the offensive side, shooting at a 49.9-percent clip to rank seventh in the country. However, Utah has been equally effective on the defensive end, allowing opponents shoot just 41.7 percent and a very solid 33.5 percent from distance. The Utes can also score, shooting at a 46-percent clip and hitting at 37 percent from beyond the arc. In this area they thrive, and they could exploit a Western Kentucky team that has allowed opponents to shoot 36 percent from distance. What is really surprising is there is a common opponent with these teams in USC; Western Kentucky won the matchup on the road, whereas Utah was swept this season. That should get your radar up that oddsmakers have come out with such a small line. Back Utah.

Penn State vs. Mississippi State (9:30 p.m. ET)Free NCAAB Pick: Mississippi State +2.5Best Line Offered: Intertops

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Penn State is a small -2.5 favorite on the college basketball odds board, and once again in my NCAAB picks I will gladly take the underdog, but in this game it'll be plus the points with Mississippi State. Both teams got here by winning on the road. Penn State handled business in its past two games at Notre Dame and Marquette, but I was more impressed with Mississippi State's wins at Baylor and Louisville. I really like how the Bulldogs match up with the Nittany Lions across the board. They are shooting at a 46.5-percent clip, but more importantly allowing opponents to shoot just 41.7 percent on the season and 32.8 percent from beyond the arc. This will be crucial against a Penn State team that likes to shoot the three, hitting 38.2 percent this season. On the other side of the ball, Penn State has been solid and has nice defensive statistics across the board. Ultimately, though, I like Mississippi State to possibly win this game with their better interior play.

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Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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