Middle Tennessee vs. Boston University CBI Odds, Picks & Predictions: Value Lies on Total Due to Slow Pace (Monday, March 21)
Photo by Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Donovan Sims (Middle Tennessee)
Middle Tennessee vs. Boston University Odds
|Middle Tennessee Odds|
-110o / -110u
|Boston University Odds|
-110o / -110u
Middle Tennessee caught fire down the stretch of the regular season, winning 13 of 14 games. The Blue Raiders then dropped three of four matchups to end their campaign, including a triple-overtime thriller to UAB in the Conference USA Tournament.
Middle Tennessee allowed Jordan Walker to score 40 points in that game, which ended its hopes of an NCAA Tournament appearance. The Blue Raiders rebounded nicely with a six-point victory over Cal Baptist in the first round of the CBI, though.
It will now matchup against Boston University, which is coming off of a grueling 71-68 victory over UNC Greensboro yesterday. The Terriers trailed the entire first half before outscoring UNCG 45-35 in the second half.
These two teams would like to play at different paces, and whoever dictates the tempo will have an advantage in this matchup.
All signs indicate that leading scorer Josh Jefferson will still be out for this matchup. Jefferson missed the Conference USA Tournament and hasn’t played since the regular season. He is averaging 15 points while hitting 37% from 3-point territory this year.
Middle Tennessee typically runs a press defense, and will be coming off of an extra day of rest. Boston University has been solid when it comes to taking care of the basketball, and would prefer to slow this game down to a half-court matchup.
The Blue Raiders’ press has forced turnovers at a top-50 rate this season, but with that, they have fouled at a rate just inside the top-300 in the country.
Offensively, the Blue Raiders have survived without Jefferson in the lineup. It’s a well-balanced offensive attack that highlights four players scoring between nine and 11 points per game. However, over the last seven games, the group has shot just 40% from the field.
Boston University’s hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid ended with an overtime loss to Navy in the Patriot League Tournament. It bounced back with a second-half comeback against UNC Greensboro in the first round of the CBI.
The Terriers had an efficient offense that ranked inside the top-100 in both 3-point shooting (35%) and 2-point attempts (52%) this season. The offense plays at a slow, efficient pace that finds its points through scoring in the half-court.
Boston University has a dynamic duo in graduate students Javante McCoy and Sukhmail Mathon. McCoy has averaged 18 points per game while hitting 44% from behind the arc. He has scored in double figures in all but one game this season.
Mathon, a 6-foot-10 forward, will have a significant height advantage over the Blue Raiders. He’s averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds while putting up 16 double doubles this season.
The defensive metrics aren’t great for Boston University — which ranks 290th in the nation in defensive efficiency — but it only allows 67 points per game and is strong at defending the perimeter.
The defense allows 3-point attempts at a top-35 rate in the country while limiting its opponents to convert 33% of the time.
Middle Tennessee vs. Boston University Betting Pick
Middle Tennessee games have gone under the total in seven of the last eight. The one exception was the triple-overtime thriller against UAB in the Conference USA Tournament. The offense has yet to exceed the 70-point mark since Jefferson has been out of the lineup.
Now the Blue Raiders match up against a Boston University offense that plays at the 277th-slowest tempo in the country. The Terriers want to slow this affair down to a half-court possession-by-possession game and feed Mathon in the post.
Boston University is coming off of a grueling matchup with UNC Greensboro yesterday and should have some tired legs. That means head coach Joe Jones will want to slow down the pace of this game even more.
Given Middle Tennessee’s offensive struggles without Jefferson in the lineup, I’m playing the under.