NCAA Basketball Picks: Bet 'Over' In Fast Tempo St. Mary's vs. Valparaiso Matchup

LT Profits Sports Group

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 3:01 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2016 3:01 PM UTC

There could be a deflated total in the NIT Tuesday night when the great shooting of the Saint Mary’s Gaels could key a relatively high scoring game vs. the Valparaiso Crusaders.

There could be a higher scoring game than the relatively low total suggests in the NIT Tuesday night when the sharpshooting Saint Mary’s Gaels (29-5, 18-12 ATS) of the West Coast Conference pay a visit to the normally defensive-minded Valparaiso Crusaders (28-6, 16-14-1 ATS) out of the Horizon League at the Athletics-Recreation Center in Valparaiso, IN at 7:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The posted total at 5 Dimes is 133 for this contest with the current NCAA Basketball odds on the ‘over’ set at -105.


Both Teams Could Have Been in NCAA Tourney
Both of these teams could have been in the NCAA Tournament but were snubbed by the selection committee. Saint Mary’s now stands at 29-5 overall and the Gaels won the WCC regular season title at 15-3 including a sweep of a Gonzaga team that is in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, but they were unable to beat the Zags for a third time in the WCC Tournament Championship Game, which delegated them to this NIT.

Valparaiso meanwhile is now 28-6 and it won the regular season Horizon League title at a spiffy 16-2, but the Crusaders were the upset losing NCAA Basketball picks 99-92 in overtime to Green Bay in the Horizon Tournament and that was apparently enough to demote them in the eyes of the committee. Like Saint Mary’s though, Valpo is playing with a sense of purpose in the NIT in an attempt to prove the NCAA selection committee wrong.


Best Shooting Team in Country
You may recall that we had these two teams as literally our last two teams in the NCAA field right before the Big Dance, so it is not totally surprising that they missed out although we were disappointed. Thus the country missed a chance to catch possibly the best shooting team in the country on the big stage in Saint Mary’s, which leads the nation in effective field goal percentage at an amazing 59.0 percent!

That is because the Gaels have no weaknesses on the floor, ranking sixth in the land in three-point shooting at 41.4 percent while hardly ever missing closer to the basket, ranking third in two-point shooting at a blistering 57.1 percent. Throw in the fact that the Gaels do not turn the ball over much ranking 22nd in offensive turnover percentage at 15.4 percent vs. a national average of 18.1 percent, and this offense is a joy to watch.

Yes, that makes this a classic matchup between a great shooting Saint Mary’s team and one of the best defenses in the country in Valparaiso, but the Gaels have the shooters that can shoot right over that normally staunch Crusaders’ defense effectively.


Stiff Defense, But Scoring More Lately
Valparaiso is ranked eighth in the country in effective field goal percentage allowed at 44.6 percent as well as 14th in defensive efficiency, and we felt that the Crusaders got a raw deal from the NCAA selection committee considering that in their two games vs. Power 5 schools this year, they beat an Oregon State team we had as one of our first four teams out but the committee let in on the road and they lost to an Oregon team that is in the Sweet 16 by six points!

Nonetheless, Valpo probably still did not face an offense as potent as Saint Mary’s possesses all season so that stiff defense should be put to the test here. Luckily for the Crusaders, their offense has gotten better as the season has gone on, which has been particularly apparent in their three post-season games.

First the Crusaders scored 92 points, albeit in overtime, in their shocking loss to Green Bay in the Horizon Tournament, and then they followed up with two nice offensive showings in this NIT, beating Texas Southern 84-73 before downing Florida State, another Power 5 conference school, 81-69 on Thursday.


Improved Offense Has Led to More ‘overs’
Finally, it appears as though the oddsmakers have been a tad slow to adjust to the Valparaiso improving offense while keeping its totals deflated due to the great defense, as it is the ‘over’ that is 6-1 in the Crusaders’ last seven games overall, 5-0 in their last five home games and 4-1 in their last five non-conference contests including both NIT games.

Given the great offense that Valparaiso is facing here, look for those patterns to continue with yet another ‘over’ when the Crusaders host Saint Mary’s in the NIT quarterfinals from Indiana on Tuesday.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Over 133
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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