NCAA Tournament Betting Preview: Ole Miss Runs Into LaSalle
Can the Rebs, a 12 seed now cast as the favorite, avoid getting upset? Or can the 13th-seeded Explorers win for the third time in five days? And which way might this game fall along the pointspread?
Rebs-Explorers Betting Lines
Most books we consulted Sunday morning opened Ole Miss as a three-point NCAAB odds favorite for this game, with an OVER/UNDER of 143. Many shops then bumped the Rebs to -4.
Going by Sagarin's PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com Ole Miss should be favored by 3.5 points for this game.
Bettors who think LaSalle could win this game outright could get +175 on the moneyline at The Greek.
Rebs-Explorers Game Set-Up
Ole Miss earned its first NCAA tournament birth since 2002 by going 12-6 in the SEC this season, then winning the conference tournament, beating Florida in the title game.
The Rebs then reached Sunday's game by beating Wisconsin Friday 57-46. Ole Miss only shot 39 percent from the floor vs. the Badgers, and G Marshall Henderson needed 21 shots to score 19 points. But the Rebs got a combined 19 points and 21 rebounds from big men Murphy Holloway and Reginald Buckner and held the Badgers to an ugly 25 percent shooting, in winning outright as six-point underdogs.
That game also played way UNDER its total of 129.
On the other side of this match-up LaSalle earned its first invitation to the Big Dance since 1992 by going 11-5 in what was a pretty good Atlantic 10 Conference this season.
The Explorers then reached Sunday's round-of-32 action by beating Boise State in a play-in game Wednesday in Dayton 80-71, then topping Kansas State in Kansas City Friday 66-62. LaSalle led the Wildcats by 18 points at the half Friday, let that entire lead slip away, then made some free throws late to escape with the victory.
The Explorers shot 43 percent from the field Friday while holding the Wildcats to 42 percent shooting in winning outright as six-point dogs.
Rebels-Explorers Betting Trends
LaSalle is 11-11 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as Explorers games have averaged 138 points.
Ole Miss is 15-12 on the totals, as Rebs games have averaged 144 points.
Ole Miss is 4-3 SU and 5-1 ATS vs. teams that made the tournament this season, including Friday's victory over Wisconsin.
LaSalle is 6-5 SU but 4-6 ATS vs. tournament teams this season, including their victories of earlier this week.
For what it's worth last year's NCAA tournament featured one 12-vs.-13 game, and the 13 seed won, as Ohio defeated South Florida.
Free NCAA Tournament Pick
Ole Miss looks like it was poorly seeded for this tournament. Yes, the SEC had a down season, but a 12 seed? The Explorers, meanwhile, are welcome additions back to the tournament, but we're concerned about them defensively. In playing its last five games without C Steve Zack, who's out with a foot injury, LaSalle has allowed opponents to shoot a collective 54 percent from the field. And odds are that Henderson will shoot a little better than the six-for-21 performance he posted against Wisconsin.