In this NCAA Basketball quarterfinal matchup, both Murray State & Old Dominion have something to prove. Those checking the betting odds should be reviewing the numbers because this is important.
Murray State was the Ohio Valley Conference regular season champion and lost in the OVC tournament finals to Belmont 88-87. There were those familiar with the Racers who still thought they deserved a shot to make the NCAA Tournament having won 25 in a row, but that did not happen.
Louisiana Tech was second in C-USA action, but did not play well in the conference tournament quarterfinals and was unceremoniously dumped by Middle Tennessee State 59-52, having won and covering six straight previously.
With how NIT is shaping up for New York, each team knows they can not only compete, but win this event, but first they have to take care of business tonight to make that occur.
Murray State is Playing Angry
The Racers players and coaches were completely stunned when they lost to Belmont by a point. Instead of feeling sorry for themselves like many teams do in that situation, Murray State (29-5, 15-14-1 ATS) took a different tack. Coach Steve Prohm’s squad has taken the approach that makes sports handicappers and those placing NCAA Basketball picks grin, they became more determined.
The Racers hosted UTEP, who coincidently was tied with Old Dominion in C-USA, and whipped them 81-66. Six days later they traveled to Tulsa, who finished second in the American Conference, and tossed them out like the trash in convincing fashion 83-62 as three-point road underdogs.
Murray State is on an 11-game road winning streak (8-3 ATS) and the Racers are led by sophomore guard Cameron Payne, the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year. Payne averages 20.1 points and 5.9 assists per game. Forward Jarvis Williams, a 6-8 senior, is the leading rebounder (8.4) and No. 2 scorer (15.7 PPG), and was named first-team all-conference. Guards T.J. Sapp, Justin Seymour and Jeffery Moss all shoot better than 38 percent from 3-point range.
For those making college basketball picks, they know Murray State prefers the fast pace which is why they average 79.3 points a game. For years the Racers have been a very good shooting team and this one is no different nailing 48.5 percent. Why Prohm’s was so successful this season is because they held opponent’s to only 40.7 percent shooting and in this tournament they have taken their defense to the next level, playing suffocating defense, with foes connecting on only 35.2 percent.
Old Dominion Has To Defend
Murray State arrives in Norfolk, VA ranked 13th in offensive efficiency according Ken Pomerey’s rankings. But they will face a stingy Old Dominion (26-7, 16-14 ATS) that is 29th in defensive efficiency at KenPom.com.
The Monarchs are tenacious on defense, holding opposing teams to 56.5 PPG on 39.9 percent accuracy. This sets up a great deal of intrigue since Murray State average almost 80 PPG and Old Dominion has only allowed one team to breach 80-point barrier (UAB scored 81 on Jan.24th) and only two others surpassed 70 points.
Trey Freeman is Old Dominion’s leading scorer and top assist man (17.5 PPG and 3.4 APG), with Denzell Taylor the leading rebounder (6.0). Freeman is battling a bum ankle and only played 12 minutes in win over Illinois State.
The betting odds will favor the Monarchs playing at home where they are a perfect 19-0 (9-7 ATS) winning by 14.7 PPG and have actually won 23 in a row dating back to last season.
What to Watch for and Winner
This is first matchup on ESPN2 starting at 7:00 Eastern and it will be about imposing style of play on the opponent. Sportsbooks opened Old Dominion as a 2 or 2.5-point home favorite and they have been bet down to -1.
In terms of determining the winner, the NCAA Basketball odds makers might be telling up who they prefer based on the total of 139.5. The average total score of a Monarchs home game is 128.1 while the average total score of a Racers road contest is 144.9, which is close to the present number.
I think this is accurate, as Murray State can speed up Old Dominion enough, control the tempo and will end up going to the Big Apple for the NIT semi-finals.
NCAA Basketball Pick – Murray State +1 from 5Dimes