Hawaii vs. California: Big Defensive Battle Makes 'Under' Our Tourney Pick

Charles Stark

Friday, March 18, 2016 11:59 AM GMT

Losing your best player right before the tournament is not an ideal situation and that is exactly what California is facing as they take on Hawaii. Who will be our tournament pick today?

NCAA tournament odds experts have the total now at 142 like at 5 Dimes -110. This is a really good matchup of two good defensive teams so for one of my NCAA tournament picks today I'm going to back under the total when these two teams meet. Neither team pushes a lot of tempo and both play solid defense.

 

Hawaii Rainbows
Hawaii comes in averaging 77.1 points per game and defensively rank 18th in the country in opponent overall shooting percentage and efficiency. This is a really good year for Hawaii and they proved that they can win off the island. Looking at their schedule though to me it really seems like California will be the best defensive team that they have played all season. Hawaii does not shoot the three particularly well averaging 32.8% from distance and rely mostly on their interior extended scoring averaging 54.6% on their two point shots. However, this plays into California's main strength as they rank first in the country allowing opponents to shoot just 40.9% on their two point shooting. Defensively Hawaii has been good in controlling tempo and rank in the top part of the country in most defensive categories highlighted by ranking 12th in opponent effective field-goal percentage. Without their leading scorer Hawaii should be able to get enough stops to keep California in check.

 

California Golden Bears
Cal averages 75.1 points per game and defensively rank fourth and ninth in the country in opponent effective field-goal percentage and opponent shooting efficiency respectively. It's really tough to see a team that could've been a sleeper in California lose their best player Tyrone Wallace just a couple days prior to the dance. That will hurt them not only on the scoring front but also on the fact that he leads the team in assists. Still, I am anticipating for California to circle the wagons and focus on what got them to the tournament to begin with, defense. They matchup very well with Hawaii as already mentioned in how they defend inside the perimeter. They are also good at limiting ball movement allowing just under 11 assists per game and limiting a lot of three-point attempts allowing just 15.5 per contest which ranks 11th in the country. They also allow opponents to shoot just over 39% overall which ranks 15th in NCAA basketball. This is a well coached team that has had some turmoil this last week from their assistant coach to their best player but I expect them to step things up tonight defensively and control tempo.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 141.5
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek