In a matchup of teams that posted nice semifinal wins, Massachusetts may over good underdog value vs. Creighton in the Men Who Speak Up Championship in Las Vegas on ESPN2.
The underdogs could hold value in the championship game of the Men Who Speak Up Tournament Wednesday night when those undefeated Massachusetts Minutemen (4-0, 2-0 ATS) take on the once beaten Creighton Bluejays (3-1, 1-2 ATS) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV at 9:30 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN2 .
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Massachusetts as a moderate underdog for this contest with the current line at +4 with odds of -109.
Massachusetts is perfect thus far this young season as the winning NCAA Basketball pick in all four games. Granted the Minutemen have beaten two outclassed foes in Howard and Central Arkansas, but they also have a nice road win at Harvard and they served notice that they are for real by routing Clemson 82-65 in one of the semifinals of this tournament on Monday.
Creighton took the other semifinal, but the Bluejays had the easier opponent in Rutgers for their 85-75 win. To put the quality of those wins in perspective, Rutgers is currently ranked 210th on the Pomeroy Ratings while UMass beat a Clemson team ranked 54th. The 3-1 Bluejays are also the only one of these teams to have a loss so far, as they were blown out 86-65 in Indiana.
No Respect from Oddsmakers
Given all of that, it would seem that the Minutemen are not getting much respect from the oddsmakers here as four-point underdogs. Then again, this is a team that lost badly in the NCAA Tournament two seasons ago to ruin a 24-9 season and Massachusetts then regressed to 17-15 last year while failing to make any post-season tournament.
Still, this has the look for a team determined to return to the NCAA Tournament early on and a team capable of scoring a lot of points in this game from all points of the floor. The Minutemen rank 27th in the country early on in effective field goal percentage at 56.8 percent, as they are hitting 52.6 percent of their two-point attempts while ranking 36th in three-point shooting.
UMass can now take advantage of a Creighton team that has never been known for defense, and early indications are that this season in not any different with the Bluejays’ defense ranked 265th in effective field goal percentage allowed at a generous 53.6 percent, ranking 289th in three-point defense and 231st in two-point defense.
Difference in the Defenses is Key
Meanwhile, Massachusetts is holding opponents to just 38.1 percent shooting overall while ranking a nice 43rd in effective field goal percentage allowed at 42.1 percent, thus making this the best defense Creighton has seen early on. And while the Creighton offense is still fine, it is not on the same level as when Doug McDermott graced the court for the Bluejays.
Creighton is 71st in offensive efficiency and 22nd on effective field goal percentage, although most probably expected better than that considering the Bluejays’ three wins came vs. teams ranked 210th or worse on Pomeroy. And while Indiana is ranked 19th, the 65 points scored by Creighton in that loss was still disappointing as Indiana likes to run as much as the Bluejays do and does not play great defense either.
UMass a Non-Conference ATM
Finally, Massachusetts has sparkled at the betting windows when playing out of conference, going 20-7 ATS in its last 27 non-conference games. Meanwhile, Creighton is just 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games vs. the Atlantic 10 Conference.
We are looking for a continuation of those patters with Massachusetts pulling the outright upset to remain undefeated when it takes on Creighton in Las Vegas on Wednesday.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Massachusetts +4 (-109)