(14) Yale v. (3) LSU
Time: 11:40 AM CT (TruTV)
Spread: LSU -7
Odds c/o 5dimes
The No. 12 AP-Ranked LSU Tigers finished the season 26-6 and won the SEC. It drew the #3 seed in the East Region where it encounters Ivy league champion Yale as a #14 seed. The Tigers are 7-point favorites over Yale, which finished its season with a 22-7 mark. Yale faced only one AP ranked opponent all season: Duke. It was badly beaten 58-91 by the Blue Devils, but it was able to defeat the Miami Hurricanes and California this season. It also lost to Harvard twice this year and surrendered 72.8 points per game. The over/under is set at 159 points according to NCAA basketball oddsmakers at 5dimes, and the game will air at 11:40 AM (CT) on Tru TV.
The LSU Tigers finished with a 16-2 record in SEC play and had the best record in the Conference but it lost 73-76 to the Florida Gators in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals. Gators’ guard Andrew Nembhard had 20 points on 7 of 14 shooting, including 3 of 7 from three-point range, to go with six assists and four rebounds, while the entirety of the Gators’ starting lineup scored in double figures. LSU was led by Naz Reid’s 26 points and 14 rebounds. Reid shot 11 of 20 from the field and 3 of 4 from distance, while also coming up with a steal and an assist in 36 minutes of play. Only one other Tiger scored in double figures, with Javonte Smart chipping in 13 points in 31 minutes off the Tigers’ bench. LSU is not replete with depth and really only goes seven deep, which may or may not play a role in this tournament as it goes on.
Reid finished No. 2 in scoring for LSU at 13.7 points per game but led the Tigers in rebounding (7.2 per). Tremont Waters led the team in scoring (15.1) and assists (5.9). Waters also averaged over three steals per game.
Skylar Mays and Smart combined to average another 24.9 points for the Tigers who tally 81.4 per game as a team while shooting 46.2 percent from the field, 75.4 percent from the line, and 32.4 percent from behind the arc. Reid is 6’10” freshman who has become even more valuable as the season has gone on. He had 18 points and 11 rebounds in the 66-55 win over Texas A&AM on Feb 26, and he followed that game with 12 points and 13 rebounds in a win over Alabama. In the tournament loss to Florida, he had 26 points on 55 percent shooting with 14 rebounds, an assist, and a steal while playing all but four minutes in the game.
Yale is not a particularly good defensive team, but it has some top scorers in its Ivy league conference. Miye Oni leads the Bulldogs with 17.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 blocks/steals per game from the guard position while shooting 39 percent from behind the arc. Alex Copeland averages 13.9 points alongside him in the backcourt, and Yale’s sharpshooter is Blake Reynolds who averages 11 points per game and leads the team with 44 percent three-point shooting.
Yale attempted 586 threes this season in its 29 games and shot 37 percent as a team. If it can get cooking, it is a team replete with three-point threats and it is absolutely capable of upsets due to this reason. Yale also uses seven-to-eight man rotation which really only has one non-shooter in it, and the Bulldogs really do not have a traditional center. It seems like a formula with a high potential bust or boom, so expect it either to result in a semi-minacious 14 over 3 upset or perhaps a really bad blowout. It just depends on if the Bulldogs are dropping its triples in this affair. No matter what the case, a deeper run is unlikely due to the imbalance of the roster and lack of interior power on the team. While Yale did average 80.6 points per game, it gave up 72.8 and it was allowing the likes of other Ivy League teams to run up 80-plus on it.
Yale will be a chic pick for upset dreamers because of its volatile nature. It is as high as 20 percent on some indices calling for an upset, but ultimately this could be a game Reid just goes absolutely bonkers in. He has evolved into a major star as the season has gone on for LSU, and Yale really has no one capable of even coming close to matching him physically. An understated 20/10 game could really seal it up–unless the Bulldogs really do come out simply hitting every three they launch, which always can happen, as anything can, in March.