College Basketball NIT Quarterfinals: California Golden Bears at SMU Mustangs

2014 NIT Quarterfinals
#2 California Golden Bears vs #1 Southern Methodist Mustangs

Moody Coliseum – Dallas, Texas
Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: SMU -8 1/2
Current Line: SMU -8
Opening Total: 134 1/2
Current Total: 138 1/2
Opening Money Line: SMU -385 / California +310
Current Money Line: SMU -375 / California +305

California and SMU meet in the NIT quarterfinals Wednesday in Dallas.
California and SMU meet in the NIT quarterfinals Wednesday in Dallas.

When the NCAA brackets came out a couple of weeks ago, many thought the 25-9 SMU Mustangs were the biggest snub. The Mustangs, who were looking for their first NCAA Tournament bid since 1993, had to settle for being the #1 overall seed in the NIT. SMU will take on the 21-13 California Golden Bears in the quarterfinals Wednesday night. The winner will face Clemson in next Tuesday’s semifinals in New York City. SMU and Cal have split the two previous meetings, but they haven’t played since 1979.

California went 10-8 in the Pac 12 and were part of a 5 way tie for third. Cal lost to Colorado 59-56 in the Pac 12 quarterfinals. The Golden Bears beat Utah Valley 77-64 in the NIT first round, and then beat Arkansas 75-64 in the second round Monday. Cal has won 3 of their last 4 games.

SMU went 12-6 in the American Athletic Conference, and were part of a three way tie for third. The Mustangs were upset by Houston 68-64 in the AAC quarterfinals. SMU lost three straight games heading into the NIT, which likely kept them out of the Big Dance. The Mustangs beat UC-Irvine 68-54 in the first round and then beat LSU 80-67 in the second round Monday.

California is coached by Mike Montgomery. The Golden Bears have losses to Syracuse and Dayton in the Maui Invitational, at UC-Santa Barbara, at Creighton, at USC, UCLA twice, Arizona, Arizona State twice, Stanford, Utah and Colorado. Cal has key wins over Oakland, Minnesota in Maui, UC-Irvine, Fresno State, Nevada, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State, Washington twice, Washington State twice, Arizona, USC, and Colorado. Cal is 13-19-1 ATS and the total is 14-19 this season.

California is outscoring teams 73-69 this season. The Golden Bears are shooting 45.6% from the field and 34.6% from 3 point range. Cal makes 68.3% from the free throw line. Golden Bear opponents are shooting 41.5% from the field and 35.3% from 3 point range. Cal averages 36 rebounds per game and opponents average 31.2 per game. The Golden Bears average 15.6 assists, 10.2 turnovers, 5.7 steals and 4.4 blocks per game. Opponents average 12.1 assists, 10.7 turnovers, 4.6 steals, and 3.4 blocks per game.

Cal guard Justin Cobbs averages 15.5 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game. Guard Tyrone Wallace averages 11.4 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Forward David Kravish averages 11.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. Forward Richard Solomon averages 11 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists,  1.1 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. He has missed both NIT games with a concussion and is doubtful against SMU. Guard Jordan Mathews averages 8.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.  Guard Jabari Bird averages 7.9 points, 2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game.   Guard Ricky Kreklow averages 5.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. He is questionable with a broken nose.

SMU is coached by Larry Brown. SMU has losses at Arkansas, Virginia in tournament in Corpus Christi, TX, at Cincinnati, at Louisville twice, at South Florida, at Temple, at Memphis, and Houston. SMU has key wins over TCU, Rhode Island,  Texas A&M in Corpus Christi, at Wyoming, UConn twice, South Florida, Central Florida twice, Hofstra, Rutgers twice, Houston twice, Memphis, Temple, and Cincinnati. SMU is 19-11 ATS and the total is 11-18 this season.

SMU is outscoring teams 72-62 this season. The Mustangs are #22 in points allowed nationally. SMU is shooting 48.5% from the field and 38.3% from 3 point range. The Mustangs are #18 nationally in field goal percentage and #42 in 3 point shooting. SMU makes 67.9% of their free throws. Mustang opponents are shooting 37.9% from the field and 31.9% from 3 point range. SMU is #4 in field goal defense and #55 in three point defense nationally. The Mustangs average 36.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.6. SMU averages 15.5 assists, 13.9 turnovers, 7.6 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.8 assists, 14.3 turnovers, 7.9 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Guard Nic Moore averages 13.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Forward Markus Kennedy averages 12 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Nick Russell averages 9.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Center Yanick Moreira averages 8.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. He is out for the season with a knee injury. Forward Ben Moore averages 6.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Keith Frazier, Shawn Williams, Cannen Cunningham, Ryan Manuel, and  Sterling Brown also get significant time in the rotation.

Cal is 2-5 ATS after a straight up win, 7-18-1 in Wednesday games, 3-12-1 overall, 1-5 in road games, and against teams with winning home records, and 1-6-1 against teams with winning home records.

SMU is 4-0 ATS in non-conference games, 11-3 after a straight up win, and after a cover, 10-3 at home and against teams with winning records, 6-2 against teams with losing road records, and 15-6 overall.

Montgomery and Brown are two legendary coaches. Montgomery has almost 700 career wins, and Brown is the only coach with both an NBA and an NCAA title. Both Cal and SMU struggled down the stretch but each won their two NIT games by double digits. I like SMU at home, but 8 points seems like a lot.

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