Top NCAAB Betting Picks of the Week – March 12th EditionPrint Your Offical MyBookie Blank March Madness Bracket
No. 8 Hampton at No. 1 Notre DameWhen: Tuesday, 9 PM ET (ESPN)
I believe Notre Dame should have gotten into the NCAA Tournament over fellow ACC team Syracuse – the ACC got nine schools in the Big Dance. Had Davidson not surprisingly won the Atlantic 10 Tournament and stolen a bid, that might have gone to the Irish. When Davidson upset top-seeded Rhode Island to win the Atlantic 10 championship, it forced the NCAA selection committee to eliminate one team from the at-large group. That team, said Creighton athletic director and tournament selection committee chair Bruce Rasmussen, was Notre Dame.
Yet why is Syracuse in? The same Orange team that Notre Dame beat – at the Carrier Dome – without its two best players. Notre Dame and Syracuse finished with identical 8-10 conference records. So one league loss that could have been a win and Notre Dame would have been in.
With a healthy Bonzie Colson, who was preseason league player of the year but missed 15 games, and a healthy Matt Farrell, who missed five league games with an ankle injury, Notre Dame felt it could play with anyone in the country. Both seniors are healthy now. Colson leads four in double figures for Notre Dame averaging 20.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Farrell is next averaging 16.8 points and over five assists per game.
Notre Dame is making its 12th appearance in the NIT and first since the end of the 2009 season. The Irish boast a 26-10 lifetime record in the event (what was the original precursor to the NCAA Championship tournament) and advanced to the title game in 1973, 1984, 1992 and 2000. Notre Dame is 14-3 all-time at Purcell Pavilion in the NIT.
How Well Has Hampton Done Recently?Hampton earned an automatic bid to the NIT by virtue of their regular-season title in the Mideastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). They lost in the MEAC title game to North Carolina Central, thereby securing an NIT bid as a conference team who won their regular-season title but did not advance to the NCAA Tournament. The Irish and Pirates will be meeting for the first time in men’s basketball on Tuesday night (Notre Dame is 5-0 all-time against teams from the MEAC).
This marks the fifth straight year and sixth in the last eight that Hampton has made the postseason under head coach Edward “Buck” Joyner Jr. Hampton has made the NCAA Tournament three times (2011, 2015,2016) and the College Basketball Invitational (2014, 2017). This is Hampton’s first-ever NIT Tournament appearance.
The winner of the Notre Dame – Hampton game will face the winner of No. 4 Penn State vs. No. 5 Temple in the second round.
No. 8 UNC Asheville at No. 1 USCWhen: Tuesday, 11 PM ET (ESPN2)
So USC finishes second in the Pac-12 regular-season standings and reaches the conference tournament title game, yet is passed over for the NCAA Tournament by an Arizona State team that finished 8-10 and eighth in the Pac-12? That makes no sense whatsoever. Although in one regard the Trojans have no one to blame but themselves thanks to a weak non-conference schedule. Their best win in that regard was New Mexico State.
“If all that matters is the quality of your best win or two on your schedule, then we shouldn’t even play and just set the field in December after the out-of-conference was complete,” Trojans coach Andy Enfield said after his team was left out of the Big Dance. “It basically discredited our entire league schedule, and no matter what we or some of the other teams in our league did during the Pac-12 or the conference tournament did not obviously matter.”
Even without injured star Bennie Boatwright, this was a veteran club led by a great point guard in Jordan McLaughlin. It won its first two conference tournament games by an average of 16.5 points and then played champion Arizona tough through most of a loss in the final.
The Trojans had an RPI of 34. Since the field was expanded to 68 teams in 2011, no power-conference team with an RPI higher than 49 had been excluded. They had a higher KenPom rating than 10 of the 36 teams selected with at-large bids. USC has won 70 games over the past three seasons, the most wins in a three-season stretch in school history.
USC has played in the NIT four times, the last time being in 1999 when it lost a first-round game at Wyoming.
What Have UNC Asheville done recently?
The UNC Asheville Bulldogs won the Big South regular season title with a 13-5 record, but were upset by Liberty, 69-64, in the conference tournament semifinals and earned an automatic berth into the NIT. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools. UNC Asheville will be making its second appearance in the NIT.
The Bulldogs last appeared in the postseason event in 2008. Overall, this year’s NIT appearance will be UNC Asheville’s seventh in a postseason tournament. The Bulldogs have advanced to the NCAA Tournament four times before (2003, 2011, 2012 and 2016), the NIT (2008 and 2018) twice and the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament once (2017).
UNC Asheville senior guard Ahmad Thomas with 247 career steals is just one steal from tying and two steals away from becoming the all-time steals leader at UNC Asheville. J.P. Primm (2008-12) is the current all-time leader with 248 career steals. Thomas was named Big South Defensive Player of the Year for a second straight season.