Utah (21-11) at Saint Mary’s CA (30-5)
When: Wednesday, March 21st 2018
Where: McKeon Pavilion, Moraga, CA
Time: 10:00 ET | TV: ESPN2
Opening Odds: Saint Mary’s -6/139.5
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The Saint Mary’s Gaels could have packed it in after the disappointment of being left out of the NCAA Tournament, but instead, have been focused on finishing the season on a high-note. They will host the Utah Utes in the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) Wednesday night in Moraga, California. The Gaels easily dispatched SE Louisiana in the opening round (89-45), then held off the Washington Huskies 85-81 on Monday night, giving them 30 wins for the first time in school history and earning a third chance at playing in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden after falling one game short in both 2009 and 2016. The Gaels are a very veteran team, with their top four scorers being seniors with center Jock Landale (21.3 points, 10.1 rebounds), the only player to average a double-double in the West Coast Conference this season, leading the way. The Utes, who were not even considered for the Big Dance, made 14 3-pointers and routed LSU 95-71 in Salt Lake City on Monday behind 16 points from senior guard Justin Bibbins, who leads Utah in scoring at 14.8 points per game. Utah, the 1947 NIT champion and 1974 runner-up, is seeking its first trip to the semifinals since 1992 with first-round exits in 2001, 2014 and 2017. The Utes and Gaels haven’t met since 2013-14, but participated in a closed scrimmage prior to the season.
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Senior forward Tyler Rawson (10.6 points, team-high 6.9 rebounds) has upped his game in the NIT, averaging 11.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the two games. Junior guard Sedrick Barefield (11.4 points) scored a team-high 17 versus LSU and was 3-for-7 from 3-point range, raising his percentage in that category to 31.9%. Senior forward David Collette (12.6 points, 4.6 rebounds) is shooting 64% from the field (eighth nationally) after going 6-for-9 in the NIT games and has made 74.4% of his 90 attempts over the last 12 games.
Landale shoots 64.2% from the floor (seventh in the country), helping Saint Mary’s lead the nation in field goal percentage at 51.8. Senior guard Emmett Naar (9.7 points) scored only one point in Monday’s victory, but dished out 12 assists and ranks second nationally at 8.0. Sophomore guard Jordan Ford (11.1 points) scored a game-high 26 points versus Washington and is averaging 20.3 over his last six games. Junior center Evan Fitzner (5.1 points, 15.9 minutes per game this season) scored a season-high 20 on Monday.
I think both of these teams are playing well enough for a trip to Madison Square Garden. The Gaels are really hard to defend, especially at home, and Utah just doesn’t have enough offense to keep up with them. I can see a tight game for a half, but Saint Mary’s will pull away in the fourth quarter.
Pick: Saint Mary’s CA -6
- Utes are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games following a straight up win.
- Utes are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Utes are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games following three or more consecutive home games.
- Utes are 9-4-2 ATS in their last 15 games overall.
- Utes are 13-6 ATS in their last 19 Wednesday games.
- Utes are 36-17-4 ATS in their last 57 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
- Utes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after scoring more than 90 points in their previous game.
- Utes are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 vs. West Coast.
- Gaels are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 Wednesday games.
- Gaels are 12-5 ATS in their last 17 vs. Pacific-12.
- Gaels are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games.
- Gaels are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games overall.
- Gaels are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Gaels are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win.
- Gaels are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Under is 6-0 in Utes last 6 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points.
- Under is 5-1 in Utes last 6 games following a ATS win.
- Under is 4-1 in Utes last 5 overall.
- Under is 4-1 in Utes last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 3-1-1 in Utes last 5 non-conference games.
- Under is 11-1 in Gaels last 12 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
- Under is 7-1-1 in Gaels last 9 games following a ATS loss.
- Under is 6-1 in Gaels last 7 Wednesday games.
- Under is 14-3 in Gaels last 17 home games.
- Under is 7-2 in Gaels last 9 vs. Pacific-12.
- Under is 38-16 in Gaels last 54 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Under is 68-31-2 in Gaels last 101 games following a straight up win.
- Under is 34-16-1 in Gaels last 51 overall.