Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:15 AM EST.
6:00 PM EST. Last season, the Mean Green of North Texas took home the forgettable, quirky consolation CBI tournament trophy that uses a best of 3 series to crown the champion. While the CBI is far from the holy grail of college basketball accolades, it’s a symbolic piece of hardware that denotes the strong foundation 2nd year head coach Grant McCasland has already laid in just one season in Denton, Texas. McCasland orchestrated a 12-win improvement in the blink of an eye and now the Mean Green are at again with a 17-3 overall record to go along with a 5-2 conference mark.
Meanwhile, Mid-Tennessee is 5-15 and had losses by 19, 22, 31, 28, 22, 22 and 18 points in seven of its first 11 games of the season. However, the Blue Raiders played #4 Virginia, Butler, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, Toledo, Murray State and Rhode Island among other very decent programs. That has led to the Blue Raiders playing the 3rd toughest out-of-conference schedule in the country while the Mean Green played the 343rd ranked out-of-conference schedule. That’s a difference of 340 positions in terms of strength of schedule. After frequently getting blown out in its first 11 games, MTSU has lost by just seven points three times, they lost at Rhode Island by just 12, they have two victories and have been within this range (12½-points) in all but one game. Seems that difficult schedule has served the Blue Raiders well.
North Texas has played just about every marshmallow in Division I hoops and a team can get into a lot of bad habits when playing such an easy schedule. The Mean Green has played one good program, Oklahoma and lost by 16. It’s difficult to even name the next best opponent that North Texas faced because they’re all so bad. Situationally, this one sets up nicely for the dog too. You see, atop the C-USA standings and sitting first and second respectively are Old Dominion and North Texas. On deck for the Mean Green is a showdown with ODU, thus, they may overlook this intruder and treat it like a glorified practice. Even if that’s not the case, the Blue Raiders can still come in well under this price, as North Texas has not prepared themselves for the rigors of conference play. MTSU has.
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#696 Mid-Tenn State +12½ -104 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 2.00)