This article is part of our College Basketball Picks series.
After going 6-3 with his NCAA Tournament picks last week, Steve Peralta returns to preview the NIT Semifinals. Here are his best bets for Tuesday's college hoops action.
North Texas vs Wisconsin
If you're a fan of intense, defensive games with very few possessions, this matchup has you covered.
Both teams rely on elite defense to win games, ranking in the top-25 of KenPom's defensive efficiency standings. Both favor extremely slow tempos, playing among the slowest in the country. In fact, North Texas ranked last among all 363 D1 teams in adjusted tempo, per KenPom, and Wisconsin trailed not far behind at No. 342.
In addition to the styles of each team, the matchup itself will likely induce a low final score. Neither team has great offensive efficiency numbers, but when they do score, they tend to rely on the three-point shot. Both teams rank in the top 15 percent of the country in three-pointer point distribution percentage, so long-range shooting is essential to their success. The problem, however, is that both teams have also consistently displayed elite perimeter defense, holding opponents to under 32 percent on shots from behind the arc this season. Assuming the defensive pressure on the edge holds up for another game, then points are going to be extremely hard to come by.
The over/under number is incredibly low, as it should be, but I still like our chances of staying beneath it. When North Texas played a similar style team earlier in the season at Saint Mary's, the Mean Green lost by a score of 63-33. Not only that, but North Texas played in six games this season where its opponent ranked in the top 15 percent of slowest offensive tempos in the country, and the total surpassed 115 points in just one of the six games. Tuesday's game will mark the seventh such instance.
All in all, it's hard not to expect a low-scoring game. I'm on the under.
College Basketball Best Bet: Under 115.5
Utah Valley vs UAB
Utah Valley is on a roll. The Wolverines have won 25 of their last 29 games and cannot stop scoring. Utah Valley has scored 72-plus points in seven straight games, including an 81-point performance against a Colorado team with an outstanding defensive efficiency rating, ranking over 20 spots higher than Tuesday's opponent in KenPom's defensive efficiency chart. Utah Valley has been a bit better on defense over the course of the season, but with a hot offensive attack leading the way entering Tuesday's game, the Wolverines are a threat to put up a ton of points.
Not to be outdone, UAB is also riding a hot streak. The Blazers have won 15 of their last 17 games, including an 86-77 victory over Florida Atlantic on February 2nd. UAB has won most of its games using a strong balanced attack, ranking top-55 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom. While Utah Valley poses a formidable challenge, UAB still holds an advantage in a couple of key areas.
First, UAB is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, ranking eighth in offensive rebounding percentage among all 363 D1 teams. Utah Valley ranks No. 219 in defensive rebounding percentage, so the Blazers should see a good amount of put-back opportunities and second-chance points in this matchup. Second, UAB also holds a clear advantage in the turnover department. The Blazers have a habit of causing havoc on defense, ranking No. 96 in defensive turnover percentage, an ideal trait in this matchup because Utah Valley tends to be sloppy with the ball, ranking No. 262 in offensive turnover percentage. UAB has a decisive advantage on the other end of the court as well, where it ranks No. 117 in offensive turnover percentage, while Utah Valley ranks No. 287 in defensive turnover percentage.
One other note that could affect the final score is the preferred playing style of both teams. Both favor an extremely fast-paced game, as both teams rank near the top 10 percent of fastest tempos in the country, per KenPom. Considering this inclination and the offensive success of each team in recent weeks, we have a good chance of seeing a high-scoring affair.
One final note, it's also worth mentioning a unique wrinkle for this game, college basketball insider Jon Rothstein recently reported that Utah Valley's head coach Mark Madsen will be named the next head coach at Cal. It's hard to measure the impact this news could have on Tuesday's Semifinal, but it's something to keep in mind.
Given UAB's aforementioned advantages, I like the Blazers' odds of advancing to the NIT Championship. I'm taking UAB and the over in this one.
College Basketball Best Bet: UAB -3 & Over 151.5
Tuesday College Basketball Best Bets:
Here's a recap of my best college basketball bets for Tuesday:
- North Texas vs Wisconsin - Under 115.5
- UAB -3
- Utah Valley vs UAB - Over 151.5
For up-to-date information on the latest college basketball odds and props from multiple sportsbooks, check out the College Basketball odds page on RotoWire.
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