Pick Ole Miss +3.5 Over BYU in NCAA Tournament First-Round

Darin Zank

Monday, March 16, 2015 3:29 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 16, 2015 3:29 PM UTC

Those interested in sports picks would be wise to tune into this Tuesday match, as BYU & Ole Miss play one of those things called an NCAA tournament “first-round” game with Cougars as short favorites.

BYU Cougars vs. Ole Miss Rebels: Betting Odds
Most books we checked with opened their betting on this game with BYU favored at -2 in NCAA Basketball odds, then quickly bumped the Cougars to -3 and -3.5.

According to Sagarin's PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com BYU should be favored by two points for this game.


Cougars-Rebs: The Match-Up
Back before this season started we gave BYU, despite losing a couple of key people last off-season, a pretty good chance of making the NCAA tournament. And thanks in large part to a late-season victory at Gonzaga the Cougars earned an at-large berth for the second straight season.

But BYU really needed that win over the Zags, because without it the Cougs might not have made it.

Brigham Young enters this NCAA tournament just having had an eight-game winning streak snapped in a 91-75 loss to Gonzaga in the WCC tournament championship game last Tuesday. That game was relatively close most of the way, before the Zags pulled away in the last eight minutes.

The Cougars shot just 40 percent from the floor last Tuesday, one of their worst performances of the season.

BYU, 25-9 overall, is just 1-5 both SU and ATS this season against teams that made the NCAA tournament; however, two of those losses came in overtime against both San Diego State and Purdue.

Back before this season started we had serious doubts as to whether Ole Miss would make the Dance. The Rebs missed the tournament last year with Marshall Henderson; how would they make it without him?

Ole Miss won eight of nine during a stretch into mid-February, but will begin this NCAA tournament having lost four of its last five games. The Rebs lost their regular-season finale at home to non-qualifier Vanderbilt, then lost their first game in the SEC tournament to non-qualifier South Carolina last Thursday 60-58. Ole Miss led the Gamecocks late, but gave up three free-throws with less than a second to go. The Rebs shot just 30 percent from the floor Thursday and turned the ball over 20 times.

Ole Miss, 20-12 overall, owns victories over Cincinnati, Oregon, Coastal Carolina (which won the Big South tournament) and Arkansas, and took Kentucky to overtime in Lexington back in January. The Rebs also suffered close losses to tournament qualifiers Dayton, LSU, Georgia, Arkansas, Georgia again and LSU again.

These two teams have no recent history.

The winner of this game will play Xavier Thursday in Jacksonville.


Cougars-Rebs, By the Numbers
Ole Miss is only shooting 43 percent from the floor this season, but 78 percent from the FT line, which is absolutely great for a college team. The Rebels are also holding opponents to just 40 percent FG shooting, which is also pretty good.

BYU, which ranks second in the nation in scoring at 84 PPG, is shooting 47 percent from the floor, 39 percent from 3-point range and 77 percent from the line, all of which is great. But the Cougars are allowing opponents to shoot 44 percent from the floor, which ranks in the bottom third in D-1 ball.


Cougars-Rebs Betting Trends
Ole Miss is 15-12 on the totals this season, as Rebs games have averaged 140 points.

BYU is 16-11 on the totals, as Cougars games have averaged 155 points.


Injury Update
An important thing to keep in mind when preparing your NCAA Basketball picks here is that BYU guard Anson Winder (13 PPG) has missed the last two games with a bad knee, and is questionable for Tuesday.


Cougars-Rebs Free Pick
BYU owns the edge as far as throwing the ball in the hole goes, but Ole Miss owns the edge in keeping opponents from doing so. And in match-ups like this we like going with the better defense. Also, the Cougars are a little banged up, and while the Rebs struggled a bit down the stretch, they're also a bit more battle-tested.

Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Ole Miss +3.5 at BetOnline

comment here