NIT Quarterfinal Betting Preview: Massachusetts Minutemen vs Drexel Dragons

2012 NIT Quarterfinals
#5 Massachusetts Minutemen at #3 Drexel Dragons

John A. Daskalakis Center – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Tuesday, March 20, 2012, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Drexel -6 1/2
Current Line: Drexel -7 1/2
Opening Total: 141
Current Total: 141 1/2
Opening Money Line: Drexel -260 / UMass +220
Current Money Line: Drexel -340 / UMass +280

Drexel and UMass meet in the NIT quarterfinals Tuesday night in Philadelphia. The winner will advance to the semifinals next week at Madison Square Garden.

The 29-6 Drexel Dragons won the CAA regular season title. The Dragons were on a 19 game winning streak before they lost by 3 points to VCU in the CAA Championship game. Drexel was not selected for an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament but did get a #3 seed in the NIT. The Dragons, coached by James Flint, beat #6 seed Central Florida 81-56 in the first round and #7 Northern Iowa 65-63 in the second round. Both games were at home in Philadelphia.

Next up for the Dragons is a quarterfinal match-up with the #5 UMass Minutemen. The 24-11 Minutemen finished in a 4 way tie for 5th in the Atlantic 10. UMass upset conference champ Temple in the A-10 quarterfinals before losing to St. Bonaventure in the semifinals. The Minutemen, coached by Derek Kellogg, beat Mississippi St 101-96 in double overtime in the first round of the NIT and then upset #1 seed Seton Hall 77-67 in the second round. This will be the third straight road game in the NIT for UMass. The winner of Drexel-Massachusetts will play the winner of Stanford and Nevada in the semifinals in New York next week.

This is the second ever meeting between Drexel and Massachusetts. UMass won the only other meeting in 1996 in Amherst.

UMass has wins over Northeastern, Boston College, Utah, East Carolina, Siena, Davidson, St. Joseph’s, Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure, Xavier, Rhode Island, and Duquesne. The Minutemen have losses to Florida St, College of Charleston, Miami (FL), LaSalle twice, Duquesne, Rhode Island, St. Joseph’s, Dayton, and Temple.

The Dragons have wins over Rider, Winthrop, Princeton, Niagara, Bradley, Fairfield, George Mason, VCU, and Cleveland St. Drexel has losses to Norfolk St, Virginia, St. Joseph’s, Georgia St and  Delaware.

Massachusetts is outscoring opponents 78-73 this season. The Minutemen are #15 in scoring nationally. UMass is shooting 43.3% from the field and 35.2% from 3 point range. UMass makes 68% of their free throws. The Minutemen are #7 in the country in rebounding averaging 39.8 a game with a rebounding margin of +1.2. UMass averages 15.6 assists, 14.8 turnovers, 8.9 steals, and 4.7 blocks a game. Minutemen opponents are shooting 40.8% from the field and 31.1% from 3 point range. UMass forces 16.7 turnovers a game.

UMass guard Chaz Williams averages 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 2.3 steals a game. He leads the team in scoring, assists, and steals, and makes 42% of his 3 pointers. Raphiael Putney averages 10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.5 blocks a game to lead the team. He is shooting 37.5% from 3 point range. Jesse Morgan averages 10.1 points, 3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 steals a game. He makes 36.2% from 3 point range. Terrell Vinson averages 9.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists a game. Sean Carter averages 8.2 points, and 6.6 rebounds a game to lead the team. Forwards Samson Carter (hip) and Cady Lalanne (foot) are both out for the season.

Drexel is outscoring opponents 65-56 this season. The Dragons are in the top 15 nationally in opponents’ scoring, field goal percentage (38.7%), and 3 point percentage (28.8%). Drexel is shooting 43.9% from the field and 38.5% from 3 point range. The Dragons make 74.4% of their free throws. Drexel averages 35.2 rebounds a game but has a rebounding margin of +5.6. Drexel averages 12.8 assists, 11.5 turnovers, 4.8 steals, and 3.3 blocks a game. The Dragons force 11.1 turnovers a game.

Drexel guard Frantz Massenat averages 13.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 0.9 steals a game. He leads the team in scoring, assists, and is tied for the team lead in steals. He is shooting 46.2% from 3 point range. Damion Lee averages 12.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.7 assists a game. He makes 38% from 3 point range. Samme Givens averages 11.6 points, 7.8 rebounds to lead the team, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 blocks a game to also lead the team. Chris Fouch averages 10.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists a game. He is shooting 37% from 3 point range. Derrick Thomas averages 8 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists a game. Daryl McCoy averages 6.7 rebounds a game.

Drexel is 20-13 ATS and the total is 16-16-1 this season. UMass is 18-13 ATS and so it the total. The Minutemen are 4-0 ATS against CAA teams, 5-1 against teams with winning records, 4-1 in non-conference games, in road games, overall, and in road games against teams with winning home games, and 15-5-1 in Tuesday games. The Dragons are 6-1 ATS after failing to cover, 9-2 against teams with winning records, 10-3 in Tuesday games, 16-6 overall, and 14-6 after a straight up win.

UMass has one of the best scoring offenses in the country and Drexel is one of the best defensive teams in the country. It makes for an interesting contrast in styles. The main difference between the teams is the Minutemen struggle on defense. I like Drexel to win to advance to go the semifinals at MSG next week.

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