Marshall will Thunder with Momentum vs. Wichita State in East

Burks Marshall

Rainman M.

Monday, March 12, 2018 1:30 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 12, 2018 1:30 PM UTC

No. 11 Wichita State opens as a four-seed against 13th-seeded Marshall on Friday at 1:30 p.m. ET. The Shockers are favored by 12 in the East Region first-rounder. Can Marshall keep the game close enough to cover the spread?

Marshall vs. No. 11 Wichita StateFree NCAAB Pick: Marshall +12Best Line Offered: Intertops

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It’s important for a team to have momentum heading into the tournament. Teams want to peak at the right time, meaning they play their best basketball in March. Look at two contrasting examples from last season: Dayton surprised everybody, achieving a 24-5 record before losing their last game in an atrocious upset at George Washington, exiting in the first round of the conference tournament and then getting outed in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Conversely, Michigan was a not-so-special 19-11 before winning its last game of the season, then the Big Ten tournament, and making it to the Sweet 16. Looking at a team’s overall record is hogwash — it’s about a team’s current form.

Marshall (24-10 SU, 19-12 ATS) is on an ATS roll, covering its last four. In its past four SU wins, it has won two games as underdogs and beat two teams it had lost to previously — UTSA and Western Kentucky. The CUSA champions are in great form while Wichita State (25-7 SU, 12-18 ATS) is looking more like last year’s Dayton, failing to cover its last six games. The Shockers’ past eight games have been decided by single digits, despite being favored by double digits in half of them on the college basketball odds board. The Shockers haven’t dominated any team in more than a month and shouldn’t be expected to here.

The Thundering Herd can’t rival the Shockers in terms of reputation, strength of conference or strength of schedule. But just ask one-seeded Xavier if they should be taken seriously. Marshall displayed impressive guts and lost at Xavier by only four points on December 19 and recently beat NIT teams MTSU and Western Kentucky away from home.

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So Marshall can compete with bigger favorites and can exploit favorable match-up advantages to push heavily favored Wichita State. Offensively, Marshall loves to shoot the three, deriving the 68th-highest proportion of points, nationally, from behind the arc. But Wichita State defends the three poorly, ranking outside the top 200 in both opposing three-point percentage and proportion of three-point attempts allowed. Look for forward C.J. Burks to help Marshall backers. Burks is a gamer, converting 45.7 percent of his threes against KenPom top-50 opponents. Guard Jarrod West ranks 252nd in three-point percentage and is converting more than 50 percent of his threes in his past three games.

Defensively, Marshall can limit Wichita State’s strength from three. The Shockers are most efficient from behind the arc. But the Herd boast the nation's seventh-lowest proportion of opposing three-pointers attempted, so they will limit the Shockers’ opportunities from three. When the Shockers focus on scoring inside, they will confront an interior defense ripe with shot-blocking quality. Center Ajdin Penava leads Marshall, ranked 13th in block percentage. As a team, the Herd rank 35th in block percentage.

With their NCAAB picks, Wichita State backers will want to counter that their team has a solid rebounding edge. They do. But this will not be decisive in a betting sense. For example, they had this advantage against Temple but against the Owls they were 0-3 ATS and only 2-1 SU.

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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