Northern Arizona vs Montana State Odds & Picks: Value on Over/Under

Northern Arizona vs Montana State Odds & Picks: Value on Over/Under article feature image
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Photo by Tommy Martino/University of Montana/Getty Images. Pictured: Carson Towt & Jalen Cone (Northern Arizona)

Northern Arizona vs Montana State Odds

Wednesday, March 8
11:30 p.m. ET
ESPN2/ESPN+
Northern Arizona Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
+8
-110
135.5
-110o / -110u
+250
Montana State Odds
SpreadTotalMoneyline
-8
-110
135.5
-110o / -110u
-325
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

Another ticket will be punched late on Wednesday night, and it may not be who most expected.

Northern Arizona is on a stunning run to the Big Sky championship game. The nine-seed in the league, NAU went just 7-22 against Division I opponents during the regular season. The Lumberjacks have a few high-level players, though.

Having now won three games in four days — multiple of which went down to the wire — NAU’s legs are certainly a question mark.

Coach Shane Burcar has played a rotation of eight players through the postseason run, but Jalen Cone, Nik Mains and Xavier Fuller (NAU's key trio) have all been playing 35+ minutes per game.

Fortunately, Montana State is not exactly surging into the tournament final with boundless energy, either. The Bobcats survived a double-overtime barn-burner on Tuesday night that doubled as a wrestling match.

They looked completely out of gas by the end of regulation, and the 10 additional minutes simply served as a war of attrition. Made jump shots were few and far between.

The game ended at almost 2 a.m. ET, which means Montana State has less than 24 hours to recover from that bloodbath. Though the Bobcats have played one fewer game than NAU in this tournament, that contest seems to level the playing field from a side perspective.

Where it may prove decisive is on the total. Neither team is particularly interested in pushing the pace — NAU is 240th in offensive possession length, MSU is 267th — and in a winner-take-all contest (where both teams may be tired), the tempo should crawl.

Indeed, the last time these two got together on Feb. 2, the game had 60 total possessions. Add in the postseason implications and the compact schedule, and this one could land right in that vicinity again.

The concern is NAU’s interior defense, which has been a sieve all season. The Lumberjacks rank 351st nationally in 2-point percentage defense, per KenPom, and they completely lack any sort of rim protection.

Against Montana State’s bruising British big men, Jubrile Belo and Great Osobor, that could get exposed.

In that Feb. 2 meeting, those two combined for 30 points and 16 boards, battering the smaller NAU frontcourt.

A scenario exists in which Belo and Osobor simply cannot be stopped. Plus, MSU’s perimeter players are capable of more than they showed in the semifinal if NAU over-commits to helping inside.

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Northern Arizona vs Montana State Betting Recommendation

The spread for this game (MSU -7.5) is probably too high, particularly since the Bobcats are in such a challenging turnaround spot. Plus, they only beat the Lumberjacks by one the last time they played.

The matchup edge in the paint has me worried enough to stay away from laying the points, however.

Unsurprisingly, the under has been bombed by the market. The total opened 139.5 late last night at DraftKings; it now sits at 136. Other books are even lower.

I side with the market, however. All indicators point to a slow, in-the-muck grinder, and the stakes of the matchup mean both squads will highly value every possession.

As long as NAU can limit touches for MSU’s powerful post players, the under should be in solid shape.

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