Tonight the Arizona State Sun Devils will travel to the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut take on the Connecticut Huskies in the 1st round of the NIT Tournament. The game has a start time of 7:00 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN 2. Current Vegas betting odds have the Huskies listed as 3.5 point favorites, while the total is set at 136.5.
Analysis: The Arizona State Sun Devils had a very mediocre year, which is why they are in the NIT and not the Big Dance. The Sun Devils went just 17-15 on the year and were stunned in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament with a 67-64 loss to USC. The Sun Devils have struggled on the road this year, where they are just 2-9. ASU has gone 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. loss, but just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games. The Sun Devils have been a decent offensive team this year, ranking 118th in scoring (69.4 ppg), 113th in shooting (44.4%), 153rd in 3 point shooting (34.8%) and 259th in FT shooting (66.8%). The defense for this team has been rather average this year, ranking 164th in points allowed (66.4 ppg), 284th in defensive FG% (45.0%) and 283rd in 3 point defense (36.3%).
The Connecticut Huskies are the defending National Champs, but they will not get a chance to defend their title thanks to losing to SMU in the AAC Tournament Final. Overall this year the Huskies have gone 20-14, which includes a solid 11-4 mark at home. UConn has gone 11-5 ATS in their last 16 non-conference games, but just 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games following a S.U. loss. The Huskies have not been a good offensive team this year, ranking 259th in scoring (64.2 ppg), 158th in shooting (43.8%), 119th in 3 point shooting (35.5%) and 123rd in FT shooting (70.5%). The defense for this team has been very good this year, ranking 26th in points allowed (59.8 ppg), 29th in defensive FG% (39.2%) and 112th in 3 point defense (33.2%).
Pick: I know the new shot clock rules will increase scoring, but still it will not drastically increase the tempo of slow down teams like this line indicates. ASU does play a bit faster than UConn, but still neither were uptempo teams this year, especially the Huskies and especially on this floor, where the under is 47-23 in their last 70 home games. Offensively the Huskies are challenged right now as they have averaged just 55.5 ppg in their last 6 games and even though ASU has allowed 71.1 ppg on the road I just don't see how the Huskies can get more than 68 points in this one. They just don't play at that pace and they haven't had to because their defense has been outstanding this year, allowing just 59.8 ppg overall and just 55.9 ppg at home. ASU is not a good offensive team away from home, where they have averaged just 64.9 ppg on the year. I look for this one to finish closer to the opening number of 126 than this inflated number.
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Strategies For Filling Out Your Brackets
Steve Fezzik and Teddy Covers from Pregame.com give some tips and insight for picking your NCAA tournament bracket.