Northwestern State vs. Texas A&M-CC Southland Final Odds, Picks
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images. Pictured: De’Lazarus Keys of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
Northwestern State vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Odds
|Northwestern State Odds|
-115o / -105u
|Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Odds|
-115o / -105u
The madness of March doesn’t always have a permanent shelf life. After 8-seed McNeese State and 7-seed New Orleans both knocked off higher-seeded foes in two straight days, they both fell short on Tuesday night against the league’s two best teams.
Regular-season champ Texas A&M-Corpus Christi had an easier go. The Islanders led by double digits for almost the entire second half, and a late run turned the game into a quasi-blowout.
On the other side, Northwestern State had to withstand run after run from New Orleans en route to a narrow four-point victory.
Because of the Southland’s format — the top two teams received byes to the semifinals — fatigue is not a huge concern for either squad. But if one team is affected, it will likely be the Demons, who had to battle for a full 40 minutes.
As for the matchup, TAMU-CC swept the regular-season series. Impressively, it did so in two very different contests. In the first, the two combined for 124 points in a rock fight at NSU. Back in Corpus Christi, the two combined for 158 points, but the Islanders again kept the Demons at arm’s length down the stretch.
Finding a way to control two disparate battles speaks highly of the Islanders’ chances to complete the triple sweep. In both games, TAMU-CC controlled the glass, posting a cumulative rebounding edge of 80-66.
The Islanders’ MO is owning the paint. They lead the Southland in rebounding rate on both ends of the floor, led by the active duo of Isaac Mushila and De’Lazarus Keys. Mushila is a matchup nightmare: a 6-foot-5 Energizer bunny who possesses both strength and quickness. His skill set allows him to live at the free-throw line. He posted a combined 44 points and 21 rebounds in the teams’ two meetings this year.
The notable outlier in both games: NSU could not buy a jumper. The Demons combined to go 10-of-49 (20.4%) from beyond the arc in the two meetings, a surprising struggle for a team with multiple high-level shooters. Most notable among these is Ja’Monta Black, whose 115 made triples rank third nationally.
TAMU-CC’s defense allows plenty of long-range attempts, so Black getting hot could alter the outcome of this one.
Another vital factor here is the championship experience on the side of TAMU-CC. The roster boasts five vital pieces back from last year’s Southland title team, all of whom played 19+ minutes in the NCAA Tournament. A trio of NSU players made the NIT at Missouri State last year, but they have not won a postseason tournament.
Both coaches are likely due for promotions up the college hoops hierarchy in the next few seasons. Steve Lutz quickly raised the standard at TAMU-CC, and the former Matt Painter assistant has done a terrific job instilling a real toughness in his teams.
On the NSU side, Corey Gipson looks like a rising star. NSU has not won 13+ games in league play since 2015; he did it in his first season. Neither team appears to have a serious coaching edge.
Northwestern State vs. Texas A&M-CC Betting Pick
This one comes down to the number. I trust the experience and physicality of TAMU-CC more, but the talent level of NSU’s backcourt cannot be ignored.
On a number below -4, I will lay it with TAMU-CC. If it were to somehow rise to 5 or higher, I would back the Demons.
Pick: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi -2
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