NCAA Tournament South Region: Buffalo +14 Our Free Pick vs. Miami

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, March 15, 2016 7:22 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016 7:22 PM UTC

In the South Region, we head into nighttime action for the NCAA Tournament with the No.3 seed Miami Hurricanes taking on potentially tricky foe in the Buffalo Bulls, who will be our pick?

After having a fine season, Miami has dropped off some of late in losing two of three and not covering the spread in any contest, with the defense not doing the job in permitting those opponents to collectively shoot over 51 percent. If the Hurricanes expect to win this contest or any others in this tourney, they will have to get back closer to season numbers of 43 percent field goal percentage defense.

After putting together small groups of wins and losses, Buffalo got it right at the correct time and upset Akron 64-61 as five-point championship game underdogs.

This matchup is scheduled for 6:50 ET tip on TNT Thursday and the NCAA tournament odds have the Canes as 13.5-point favorite with total of 148.5. Do the Bulls have any shot for upset?


Buffalo U
SU and ATS Records - 20-14, 17-13-2 ATS

Away Record -10-9 and 11-7-1 ATS

Underdog Record - 6-11 and 7-9-1 ATS

3 or More Days Rest - 10-6 and 6-7-1 ATS

Off a SU Win - 11-8 SU and 9-9-1 ATS


SU and ATS Record - 25-7, 18-13 ATS

Away Record - 10-6 and 7-9 ATS

Favorite Record - 22-4 and 16-10 ATS

3 or More Days Rest - 14-3 and 9-7 ATS

Off a SU Loss - 5-1 SU and 2-4 ATS


The Game Scoop
Though this is NCAA tournament game, this at least by definition is the easiest opponent Miami is facing since taking on Georgia Tech on Feb.7th. The Hurricanes depend on senior guards in Sheldon McClellan (15.8 PPG) and Angel Rodriguez (11.7 PPG and 4.4 APG). This experienced tandem also makes sure their team limits its mistakes and Miami commits just 10.6 turnovers per game. If veteran guard play matters, the Canes are in great hands.

The potential difference-maker in any Miami outcome is arguably the best six-man in the country in Ja'Quan Newton (11.1 PPG), who can be instant offense or setting up others. The offense average 75.6 PPG and also leans on center Tonyw Jekiri to clean missed shots and protect the paint as coach Jim Larranaga's last line of defense.

Buffalo’s defense allows 75.9 PPG, which give the appearance of being high, but because they play at faster pace than say Miami, they give more points largely due to more possessions, for and against, with the field goal percentage defense very similar to their opponents at 43.2%.

The Bulls defense was really the difference in winning the MAC again, holding three foes below 40 percent shooting.  You will find your eyes drawn to G Lamonte Bearden (13.6 PPG) and F Blake Hamilton (12.9 PPG) as Buffalo difference-makers. If Buffalo is to compete, 6-10 freshman Ikenna Smart will have to bang in the paint. The Bulls are perfect 5-0 SU and ATS at neutral court sites.


Spread Winner and Totals Lean
Buffalo has to stay out of half court game with Miami, they don't have the physical size to compete for 40 minutes. The Bulls have push the ball and keep attacking the offensive glass, as they average 10.6 boards on their missed shots.

Having seen both teams play at least three times, I believe Buffalo can cover if they board, score off turnovers and get to the line for their typical 25 free throw attempts. What makes me wary is the past three MAC winners have been drilled by average of 25.3 PPG in first round contest. For NCAA tournament picks, I will trust my eyes and back the Bulls who are 11-3 ATS away versus teams committing 12 or fewer turnovers game the last three seasons.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Buffalo +14
Best Line Offered: at Bet365


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