Lock Favorite Valparaiso As Your NCAA Basketball Pick In The NIT Final

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, March 31, 2016 4:38 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 31, 2016 4:38 PM UTC

Valparaiso was a notable Tournament snub, and look for it to now complete its statement to the selection committee as our NCAA basketball pick by beating George Washington for the NIT Championship.


One of the more notable NCAA Tournament snubs has a chance to complete its statement to the selection committee in the Championship Game of the NIT Thursday night when the George Washington Colonials (27-10, 17-16-1 ATS) take on those slighted Valparaiso Crusaders (30-6, 17-15-1 ATS) at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN. The point spread at 5Dimes has Valparaiso as a modest favorite for this contest with the current line at -2 on the NCAA basketball odds boards at -105.


Crusaders Were Our Last Team in NCAA Tourney
You may recall that we had Valparaiso as literally out last team in the NCAA Tournament field a couple of days before the Big Dance, but the selection committee did not see it that way. To their credit, rather than getting down, the Crusaders have used that snub as a motivating factor to reach this NIT Championship Game.

George Washington was not likely to make the NCAA Tournament field anyway after finishing in fifth place in the Atlantic 10, and the NIT fate of the Colonials was sealed when they were the losing NCAA basketball picks in quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament vs. St. Joseph’s. Thus, it has been easier for the Colonials to motivate themselves in this tournament and they have certainly played well including winning a huge true road game at Monmouth.


One of Premier Defenses in Country
Valparaiso had its first close call of this NIT in the semifinals Tuesday when it escaped with a 72-70 win over BYU, although even in that narrow win, the Crusaders held the Cougars nearly 14 points below their great 83.6-point scoring average.

Defense has been the calling card for Valpo ever since Bryce Drew became the head coach, and the Crusaders have taken things to new heights this year ranking sixth in the country in defensive efficiency and sixth in effective field goal percentage allowed at 44.3 percent while allowing only 62.4 points per game. So defense is never a concern for the Crusaders, and now they are getting better offensive production in the post-season averaging 77.8 points in five game including the shocking loss to Green Bay in the Horizon League Tournament.

That was the loss that no doubt knocked Valpo out of the Big Dance, but our counter-argument is that in the Crusaders’ two games vs. power conference teams this season, both on the road vs. teams that made the NCAA Tournament Field, Valparaiso won outright at Oregon State and lost by just six points at an Oregon team was a number one seed in the NCAA and advanced to the Elite Eight!


Facing Second Straight Great Defense
George Washington had been hot offensively in this tournament topping 80 points in its first three wins with home triumphs over Hofstra and Florida sandwiched around the road win at Monmouth, but the offense was shut down a bit in the semifinals Tuesday albeit in a still safe 65-46 win over San Diego State.

So the Colonials now go from taking on that San Diego State defense ranked second in the country in defensive efficiency to this Valpo defense ranked sixth, and George Washington shot just 26-of-61 from the field despite beating the Aztecs by 19 points. The difference between that game and this game though is that San Diego State has struggled offensively all year and those struggles continued on Tuesday. Tonight looks like a tougher assignment for George Washington, as it is facing another defense that is just as good but also an offense that improved as the season went on and that is now peaking at the perfect time during the post-season.


Valpo Just Beat Two Great Offenses
Finally, before the two-point win over BYU in which it still held a great-shooting Cougars team to only 38.2 percent shooting, Valparaiso had won each of its first three NIT games easily by double-digits, including holding another of the best offenses in the country in Saint Mary’s to 44 points in a 16-point win in the quarterfinals! Now the Crusaders get to face a Colonials team that, although not bad offensively, is not as the same level as the two offenses they just beat.

As the old adage says, “Defense wins championships,” and when you add in Valparaiso improving offensively and also playing with a chip on its shoulder following the NCAA snub, look for the Crusaders to claim the NIT Championship with a safe win over BYU at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Valparaiso -2.5 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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