College Basketball NIT Quarterfinals Betting Preview: #2 St. Mary’s Gaels at #1 Valparaiso Crusaders

2016 NIT Quarterfinals
#2 St. Mary’s Gaels at #1 Valparaiso Crusaders
Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Athletics-Recreation Center – Valparaiso, Indiana
Opening Line: Valparaiso -4
Current Line: Valparaiso -4 1/2
Opening Total: 128
Current Total: 132
Opening Money Line: Valparaiso -210 / St. Mary’s +180
Current Money Line: Valparaiso -200 / St. Mary’s +170

America East Tournament Preview
Valparaiso hosts St. Mary’s in the NIT quarterfinals Tuesday.

The 28-6 Valparaiso Crusaders host the 29-5 St. Mary’s Gaels in the first NIT quarterfinal Tuesday. The winner will face either the BYU Cougars or Creighton Blue Jays in the semifinals next week in New York. This is the first ever meeting between St. Mary’s and Valparaiso.

St. Mary’s is coached by Randy Bennett. The Gaels tied for first in the West Coast Conference with Gonzaga at 15-3. The Gaels lost to Gonzaga in the WCC Championship game and were snubbed for an NCAA Tournament bid. St. Mary’s was given a #2 seed in the NIT. The Gaels beat #7 New Mexico State 58-56 in the first round and #3 seed Georgia 77-65 in the second round Sunday night. Both games were in California. St. Mary’s is playing in their fifth NIT since 2009 but has never made it past the quarterfinals.

St. Mary’s has home wins over Manhattan, Stanford, CSU-Bakersfield, UC-Davis, UC-Irvine, and Cal-Poly. In conference, the Gaels lost to Pepperdine twice, and at BYU, but swept Gonzaga in the regular season. Those were the only teams with winning records in the WCC. St. Mary’s also has a road loss at California. The Gaels are 18-12 ATS and the total is 11-18-1 this season. St. Mary’s was a 7 point favorite over Georgia and the total was 134.

Valparaiso is coached by Bryce Drew. The Crusaders won the Horizon League regular season title with a 16-2 record, but were upset by Green Bay 99-92 in the semifinals of the Horizon tournament. Valparaiso wasn’t selected to the NCAA Tournament and was given a #1 seed in the NIT. The Crusaders beat #8 seed Texas Southern 84-73 in the first round and #4 seed Florida State 81-69 in the second round last Thursday. Valpo is in their third NIT and has never made it past the first round before this season.

Valparaiso has road losses at Oregon, Ball State, Belmont, and to Wright State twice. The Crusaders have home wins over IPFW, Iona, Belmont, Missouri State, Milwaukee, Green Bay, and Oakland. Valpo has road wins at Rhode Island, Oregon State, Indiana State, Oakland, Green Bay and Milwaukee. Valparaiso is 16-14-1 ATS and the total is 16-15 this season. The Crusaders were 4.5 point favorites against Florida State and the total was 147.5.

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St. Mary’s is outscoring teams 75-61 this season. The Gaels are #5 nationally in points allowed. St. Mary’s is shooting 50.9% from the field and 40.9% from three point range. The Gaels are #1 nationally in field goal percentage and #8 in three point shooting. St. Mary’s makes 69.3% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 40.8% from the field and 33.1% from 3 point range. St. Mary’s averages 35.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 27.3 per game. The Gaels are #8 nationally in rebounds allowed. St. Mary’s averages 16.8 assists, 9.6 turnovers, 4.9 steals and 3.5 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.8 assists, 9.8 turnovers, 4.4 steals and 2.4 blocks per game.

Emmett Naar averages 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Dane Pineau averages 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. Calvin Hermanson averages 11.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Joe Rahon averages 10.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Evan Fitzner averages 8.9 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. Jock Landale, Kyle Clark and Stefan Gonzalez will also get minutes in the rotation.

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Valparaiso is outscoring teams 76-63 this season. The Crusaders are #9 in points allowed nationally. Valpo is shooting 44.4% from the field and 36.3% from three point range. The Crusaders make 72.7% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 38.4% from the field and 32.9% from the field. The Crusaders are #3 nationally in field goal defense. Valpo averages 41.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 28.1 per game. The Crusaders are #14 or better in both categories. Valparaiso averages 14.1 assists, 12.7 turnovers, 6.8 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents averages 10.5 points, 13 turnovers, 5.6 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Alec Peters averages 18.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Keith Carter averages 10.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Tevonn Walker averages 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Shane Hammink averages 9 points, 3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Darien Walker averages 8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. Four other players will get time in the rotation.

St. Mary’s is 8-1 ATS in non-conference games, 11-3 after a cover, 6-2 against teams with winning home records, 5-2 after a straight up win, and 11-5 in Tuesday games.

Valparaiso is 5-1 ATS in Tuesday games, 3-1-1 against teams with winning road records, 2-5 in home games, and in non-conference games, 2-7 after a straight up win, 1-4 against teams with winning records, and overall.

Both of these teams are in the top ten nationally in points allowed, so this should be a low scoring rock fight. While Valparaiso hasn’t played since Thursday and didn’t have to leave home, St. Mary’s played Georgia Sunday night and has to travel all the way to Indiana on one day’s rest. I think St. Mary’s has more talent, but I like Valparaiso to win a close game at home.

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