Belmont vs. Vanderbilt Odds & Picks: How to Bet This Crosstown NIT Contest (March 15)
Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Vanderbilt forward Jordan Wright
- The Belmont Bruins and Vanderbilt Commodores open the NIT with a crosstown showdown on Tuesday night.
- The Commodores enter as short favorites, but the Bruins may hold the betting value, according to our staff.
- Read on for our full breakdown and top betting pick below.
Belmont vs. Vanderbilt Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Belmont travels five minutes down the road to face its fellow Nashville program in Vanderbilt.
Jerry Stackhouse has been vocal about wanting his team to extend its season to the NIT. It will be the first time since 2017 that the program’s season didn’t end before a tournament.
The Commodores finished the regular season with a conference record of 7-11, but showed signs of life over the last week. Vanderbilt defeated Georgia and Alabama before nearly pulling off an upset over Kentucky in the SEC Tournament.
Belmont will be equally as motivated after having its season ended by Morehead State in its first game of the Ohio Valley Tournament. The Bruins finished second in the conference with a 15-3 record and are relishing the opportunity to take down an in-city SEC opponent.
Both programs will enter this NIT matchup with plenty of motivation to gain some momentum for next season.
By Jim Root
The Bruins entered this season with sky-high expectations. They returned everyone from a team that went 26-4, won the OVC regular season, then lost in the OVC title game to Morehead State. The NIT was never the goal, but for a veteran team with plenty of talent, this serves as a last hurrah.
Under Casey Alexander (and Rick Byrd before him), Belmont is best known for its hyper-efficient offense. Every season since 2013, Belmont has ranked in the top five nationally in 2P%. The Bruins push the ball in transition and look to feed post man Nick Muszynski early in the shot clock, often resulting in quick, easy buckets.
Perhaps more impressively, all four of Belmont’s top guards shoot better than 60% inside the arc.
Point guard Grayson Murphy is the linchpin of the transition attack, ripping down defensive rebounds and pushing the tempo. Two rangy wings, Ben Sheppard and Will Richard, also play crucial roles in Belmont’s offensive success.
Even sniper Luke Smith — at a diminutive 6-foot, 170 pounds — managed to be an efficient finisher inside. He is a savvy cutter, but that says more about the system than Smith.
Belmont’s offensive execution is second to none.
The Bruins’ deficiencies lie in the athleticism department. Statistical categories that indicate athleticism — offensive rebounding, getting to the free throw line — lag well behind other metrics.
Their most athletic foe in league play, Murray State, beat the Bruins twice by a combined 55 points. LSU whipped them by 30 points. And Morehead State, the other league power this season, won two of the three matchups with Belmont – the third of which relegated Alexander’s squad to the NIT.
There aren’t many NIT teams that enter “the other tournament” with more momentum than Vanderbilt.
Stackhouse has had his team playing very solid basketball throughout February and into March. Look no further than last week as evidence of that: Vanderbilt went to Tampa for the SEC Tournament and showed the kind of improvements this team has made as the season has gone on.
The Commodores annihilated Georgia, upset Alabama, then took Kentucky to the wire before losing, 77-71 — all within the span of three days.
Scotty Pippen Jr. is a bucket-getter who can score in multiple ways and also facilitate for his teammates.
With the way that Vandy finished the year, I would expect the Dores to be one of the more enthused Power Five teams to play in the NIT.
After being on the hot seat earlier in the season, all signs indicate Stackhouse will be back next season. The NIT allows his team to finish 2021-22 on a high note before getting ready for a pivotal season next year.
Belmont vs. Vanderbilt Betting Pick
Despite its momentum coming into this tournament and this game being played at Vanderbilt’s home court, the advantage may go to Belmont given the proximity between these two schools.
Belmont plays with a fast pace that is keen on smooth ball movement, leading to clean looks in the paint. The Bruins rank inside the top-10 in assist rate and are first in 2-point field goal percentage (61%).
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt’s defense is built to slow down opposing offenses on the perimeter and has struggled to defend inside the paint.
Vanderbilt has the length of a typical SEC team and will lean on that to try to slow down the Belmont offense. But the Commodores offense is reliant on bombing 3-point attempts and getting to the charity stripe.
Stackhouse’s group takes 46% of its shot attempts from behind the arc, but converts at just a 34% clip. Belmont has been elite at defending without fouling and won’t give up any free buckets.
This game will be a fun one to start the NIT off with some buzz between two programs residing in the same city. The matchup will likely be a close one that comes down to the wire.
I’m taking the points with Belmont and its offense that operates with surgical precision