Of course, the Final Four doesn’t start until Saturday, but we still have a few college basketball games going on in the meantime.
The NIT Tournament semifinals take place Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden with St. Bonaventure taking on Xavier and Texas A&M meeting Washington State in the late game.
I’ve played on both games, so let’s go.
Odds courtesy of WynnBET Sports Betting
Column record: 120-128 (-12.7 units)
I think this game is shaping up well for the Bonnies, who are playing a game zone that should create a problem for a Xavier team that is without their main guard Paul Scruggs.
St. Bonaventure’s defense is designed to keep players out of the paint and shoot over their zone, allowing for the 20th-highest 3-point rate in the nation. This will be problematic for the Musketeers, who shoot outside the top 100 from beyond the arc. Without their dynamic guard, Travis Steele’s team will struggle to find answers.
On the other side, the Bonnies are built for success against Xavier, who doesn’t generate a ton of turnovers and the team is playing their best ball of the season, ranking 59th in Bart Torvik’s adjusted efficiency rating since February 14th. In the same time frame, the Musketeers are 106th.
Something that may not be taken into account is the St. Bonaventure crowd, which travels incredibly well and has embraced this NIT race. A local team, I’m expecting a big contingent of Bonnies fans on Tuesday night.
As I was writing I was leaning towards the small gap but ended up playing 2 units on the ML hoping I could avoid a tight bad beat.
CHOOSE: Saint-Bonaventure ML (-125) 2U
These are two teams that are looked upon favorably in the advanced metrics community, but there is no hotter team than Texas A&M. The team is 14th in adjusted efficiency since February 14, including 12th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to Bart Torvik.
The team is in the top 10 at forcing turnovers and is excellent at defending the perimeter, allowing the 54th-lowest 3-point percentage in the nation. Paired with a Wazzu team that likes to climb from deep (41st-highest 3-point rate), the Aggies’ defense along their 3-point line will be key.
On the other side, the emerging A&M offensive will be key to this one. The team is strong on the offensive glass and reaches the free throw line, ranking among the top 50 in the nation in offensive rebound percentage and free throw rate this season.
That being said, Wazzu is also elite on defense, ranking 26th in KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Effectiveness metric, so the Aggies’ offense will have to show up. This game should be physical and defensively focused, but I think it’s A&M’s offense that will make the difference, so I’ll go with the little favorite on Tuesday night. The Aggies are the best team in the nation at generating breakaway scoring opportunities and also have the most reliable shooting profile (11th near shots while Wazzu is outside the top 300, according to Haslemetrics).
I’ll be riding with Williams’ burgeoning A&M club to advance to the NIT Finals with their teeming defense and budding offense.
CHOICE: Texas A&M ML (-130)
You can find all of Reed’s bets HERE!