NCAA Basketball

College Basketball Odds, Picks, Prediction for Middle Tennessee vs. FAU

Middle Tennessee vs Florida Atlantic Odds

Boy, Conference-USA has taken a big step forward in recent years as the C-USA is rumored to be a three-bid league this year.

And then there’s Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic, two of the most underrated teams in the country over the last two seasons.

Even by oddsmakers.

MTSU was the top ATS team in the nation last season (26-8-1), while FAU is the top ATS team this season (14-3-1).

So how do we handicap a game between the two most underrated teams in college basketball? Let’s look at the odds and find out.

MTSU is long and athletic, bothers opponents with pressure and boasts the 25th best defensive turnover rate in the country. The Blue Raiders also protect the rim as Teafale Lenard leads a defense with the nation’s third-highest block rate.

Offensively, the Blue Raiders pressure the rim with a similar combination of length and athleticism. As expected, they like to get downhill, either in transition or during off-screen and cut sets.

MTSU is the most efficient rim-scoring team in C-USA, but the Blue Raiders sacrifice spacing and shooting. That’s true on both sides of the court, as MTSU is terrible against both catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble 3s.

However, the Blue Raiders have been surprisingly effective at creating open looks from the corner. Most recently, they knocked down 7-of-12 corner 3s in a 17-point win over Louisiana Tech.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

But I think Nicholas McDevitt’s team got a little lucky. The Blue Raiders are on a four-game winning streak, but three of those games were rated analytical losses by ShotQuality.

MTSU has been a little lucky, but FAU is a complete lucky box.

The Owls beat UTSA by 19 as 16.5-point favorites, North Texas by four as three-point favorites, Northern Kentucky by 15 as 13-point favorites and Detroit by 11 as 10.5-point favorites.

Like MTSU last season, FAU is a coverage machine, but I’m not sure either deserved to cover as many games as it has.

ShotQuality projects the Owls for a monstrous amount of negative regression, specifically at the rim (45% FG allowed, 57% SG FG allowed). That’s likely because the Owls are allowing 19 FGA at the rim per game. games, but less than 50% have dropped.

Part of that is a rim-funnel scheme (the Owls are an excellent pick-and-roll defense, especially against the roll man), but Vladislav Goldin isn’t the world’s greatest rim protector, and more opposing layups should fall going forward.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

Offensively, FAU is due for much less regression. ShotQuality requires almost no regression, mostly because FAU is an excellent pick-and-roll team and Goldin is an elite roll-man, so the Owls create plenty of excellent looks from these sets.

That said, a disproportionate amount of mid-range and 3-point shots have fallen for the Owls, which makes up for surprisingly ineffective paint.

Image credit: CBB Analytics

Now, all this regression talk aside, the Owls have been successful because of their two-way depth. FAU is 16th nationally in bench minutes, and each player is a plus defender and an elite 3-point shooter.

In addition, FAU owns the glass and runs guys from the 3-point line.

The Owls are overachieving, but we can’t ignore the true talent level of the team, which is an upset in the first round of March Madness.

Middle Tennessee vs Florida Atlantic Betting Pick

It’s ironic that I started this article with a bit about how both teams have consistently been overrated, only to end it with a bit about how both teams are overrated.

Alas, the negative regression due to both teams is a wash.

Both teams boast surprisingly effective transition defenses, so I expect to see this game mostly played in the half court. In addition, I expect rim-pressing offenses through ball screens and off-screen action.

If so, I like MTSU’s chances. FAU’s rim defense owes so much negative regression, and the Blue Raiders are perfect for forcing it. Meanwhile, MTSU is the top defense in the league in ShotQuality post-up PPP allowed and rim PPP allowed.

The concern is that FAU will shoot MTSU out of the gym, especially with how many good looks the Blue Raiders are allowing.

However, I still project some negative shooting regression for FAU and hope some extra Owl jumpers fall out in a single digit home win.

ShotQualityBets makes this spread FAU -4.2, so I think there is good value with the Blue Raiders down to around +7.

Pick: MTSU +9.5 (-114) | Bet to +7 (-110)

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