How to Bet the Nassau Championship: Preview Odds, Picks & Predictions
Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Tylor Perry (North Texas)
The Nassau Championship might be one of the most underrated MTE’s of the year. The tournament includes eight teams, all of which have a decent chance of getting a ticket to the Big Dance later this year. More importantly, they are all teams that could play spoiler in March.
This will truly be a tournament to decide who is the best of the best among mid-majors, and it’s a great opportunity to see some of these teams compete against top competition outside of their conference.
That will be incredibly valuable — especially from a betting perspective — once we get to the end of the year.
Vermont from the American East, Ball State from the MAC, Missouri State from the MVC, UNCW from the Colonial, North Texas from the C-USA, San Jose State from the Mountain West, Oakland from the Horizon and Long Beach State from the Big West are the teams in the event.
This field looks like a conference champion futures parlay, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Let’s take a look at how these teams match up.
Vermont vs. Ball State
The opening game of the Nassau Championship pits the Vermont Catamounts against the Ball State Cardinals. The Catamounts have struggled out of the gate, starting 1-5, which has included losses to Cal State Fullerton and Yale.
Ball State, meanwhile, might be 3-1, but those wins have come against two teams outside of Division I and Omaha.
Vermont’s struggles are, in my opinion, largely things that can be fixed. This is a team still adjusting to being without Ryan Davis and Ben Shungu. Not to mention, from everything I can tell, Dylan Penn is just playing basketball with a fully broken hand.
Ball State, on the other hand, has just greatly benefited from a cake-walk schedule to open the season. And I don’t trust nearly any of the stats it’s logged so far.
Back the Catamounts to get their season back on track in the Bahamas as high as a 6-point favorite.
Missouri State vs. UNC Wilmington
The Bears come into this game at 2-1, with their only loss coming in a rock fight vs. BYU. Missouri State came up just short in that game, losing 66-64.
The Seahawks, meanwhile, are really hard to gauge. They’ve won two games against non D-I teams and lost three outings to teams ranked inside the top 50 by KenPom.
This will be the Seahawks’ first true game, and we can gain some understanding as to who they are as a team.
Missouri State has been the better team in nearly every aspect of the game, but again, it’s hard to gauge just how good this UNCW team is.
Back the Bears as high as a 7-point favorite in this one.
North Texas vs. San Jose State
North Texas lost by 30 to Saint Mary’s in its second game of the season, but it was without its best player and one of the best scorers in the Conference USA, Tylor Perry.
The Mean Green looked considerably better with him back against Fresno State, and I think they’ll only improve as the season continues.
I’m not too concerned with the fact that the Mean Green rank 363rd in the nation when it comes to 2-point shooting percentage. That will improve.
And even if they do remain dependent on the 3 — currently ranked second in the country in 3-point attempts — that shouldn’t be an issue up against a San Jose State team that allows opponents to hit 34.9% from beyond the arc.
San Jose State has benefited greatly from a lack of competition. The Spartans are 3-1 on the season, with their one loss coming against Hofstra, the only team ranked better than 200th by KenPom that they’ve faced this season.
As mentioned above, the biggest issue for the Spartans against North Texas will likely be their perimeter defense. Even against the lowly competition they’ve faced, the Spartans are allowing teams to hit a high percentage of their 3s.
North Texas hasn’t found its stroke from deep yet this season. But with the sheer amount of attempts it takes, North Texas could challenge SJSU in this area.
Back North Texas against the Spartans in the Bahamas as high as a 6-point favorite.
Oakland vs. Long Beach State
Oakland will head to the Bahamas with some serious momentum coming off of its 92-90 win in overtime against in-state rival Eastern Michigan.
But the Golden Grizzlies also lost to Montana State by 13 at home, a game in which they were favored by 3.5.
The Golden Grizzlies square off against a Long Beach State team that is 2-2 on the season and is somewhat hard to gauge after it won its opener against Cal Baptist, which has gone on to post some impressive wins.
The Grizzlies are led by Jalen Moore — who ranks 11th among all Division I players when it comes to assists per game (7.2) — and Trey Townsend — who leads the team in scoring, putting up 18.8 points per game.
Townsend hit the game-winner in overtime against Eastern Michigan. Prior to that, he put up a season-high 30 points on Toledo.
This Oakland team is elite on the offensive end and rarely makes mistakes, turning the ball over on just 14% of possessions. The defense, however, might be one of the worst in the nation.
Oakland’s defense is allowing teams to hit 49.5% from beyond the arc, which is legitimately the worst mark in the nation when it comes to perimeter defense.
The Golden Grizzlies aren’t much better anywhere else, as opponents hit 53.8% on 2-point shots and they rarely create turnovers.
Long Beach State, on the other hand, is elite at both ends of the court, and is led by its all-time leading scorer in Joel Murray, who is averaging 16.7 points per game.
Two other starters from last season’s team that won the Big West regular season title are back with him. Those two are Jadon Jones — who won Defensive Player of the Year a season ago — and Aboubacar Traore — who’s one of the best in the conference at pulling down rebounds.
The Beach drive to the basket almost non-stop on offense, ranking in the 98th percentile when it comes to field goal attempts at the rim. They should find success against a Grizzlies team that allows teams to score pretty much at will from anywhere on the court.
Take the Beach as high as a 10-point favorite in this one.