Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
Sun Belt Conference - QUARTERFINALS - Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana
3:00 PM EST. The Sun Belt Conference is a one-bid conference so the only team going dancing will be the winner of this conference tournament. The best team doesn’t always rise to the top during the regular season. The best team often puts its best foot forward when it counts most and that would be now. UT Arlington might be the best team in the Sun Belt while App State is clearly not.
One may be enticed into betting App State here, as both teams rank in the top four in the conference in offensive scoring with both averaging over 75 PPG. That’s nice but App State played every marshmallow in Division I ball so they have a bunch of skewed numbers from its non-conference schedule. App St is also coming off a resounding 29-point win over Little Rock to open this tournament on Wednesday but Little Rock is among the worst teams in the country with a 4-14 conference mark and 7-25 overall record. Roughly two weeks ago, App St barely got by Little Rock in a 2-pt victory.
The favorite is being sold short here, as the market pays more attention to results than they do performance. UT Arlington is clearly the superior squad with more impressive wins throughout the season but App State is coming off that aforementioned 29-point victory and they and they also beat UT Arlington once in two tries this season. Big deal, as App State won by four on its own floor after losing by 12 at UT Arlington on February 1.
UT Arlington already had a 14-point win at BYU in its back pocket when the Mavericks lost a 77-76 heartbreaker to Alabama in Tuscaloosa back in late November. Kevin Hervey will absolutely be the best player on the floor in this game but the Mavericks are not just a one-man show with a hot-shooting flash in the pan. 7-foot senior Johnny Hamilton only happens to be drawing six fouls per 40 minutes and converting 62 percent of his 2s. They also have three other players averaging double digits besides Hervey. UT Arlington coach Avery Johnson has made it clear that the Mavericks used the regular season to gear up for this conference tournament. The Mavericks have the size and the shooting chops to make life difficult for a major-conference favorite in the round of 64 but before that occurs they have to take care of business here. UT Arlington was a -9½ point choice over App State when it didn’t matter much and beat them by 12. They were also a -4½ point choice in App State and although they lost, the fact that they were favored by that much in App State’s barn tells is we’re getting a bargain on a neutral floor here.
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#840 UT-Arlington -6 -110 (Risking 2.20 units - To Win: 2.00)