National Invitational Tournament Quarter Final Games Odds

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Tonight, half the field for the National Invitational Tournament semi-finals will be set, with two quarterfinal games to be played. Both matchups will have a distinctly southern flavor, played in Oxford, MS and Birmingham, AL. Each of the home teams is favored to win by Sportsbook.com.

Mississippi (23-10, 18-10-1 ATS), like many teams that had NCAA Tournaments dreams could have sulked and gone thru the motions and been bounced out of the NIT. But they have not and credit goes to coach Andy Kennedy and the Rebels players, who are playing some of their best basketball of the season.

"We're a couple of bounces away from being in the other tournament," Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. "But, this team has won six of the last seven games (6-1 ATS) and has an opportunity to keep playing with a lot of stake."

Mississippi is 17-6 ATS in home non-conference games the last several years and now playing with something at stake, this helps the Rebels program for next season, with many of the principle players returning, including Terrico White who has been the star with 48 points in two tournament games. Ole Miss is a nine-point favorite according to Sportsbook.com with a total of 156.5 and they are 9-2 ATS off a home win this season.

Texas Tech (19-15, 16-12 ATS) was 4-12 in the Big 12 this season, losing their last seven in a row (2-5 ATS) in the conference. In the Big 12 Tourney, the Red Raiders extracted revenge on Colorado and was very competitive with Kansas before falling 80-68 (possibly a sign for the Jayhawks?). This earned Texas Tech a berth in the NIT and they too have made the most of it winning twice.

 Contributions are coming from many sources like Brad Reese and front liners Darko Cohadarevic and D'Walyn Roberts, who have steadier in what they deliver. The Red Raiders held off Jacksonville in their last outing and are 5-17 ATS in road games after a win by six points or less.

The first quarterfinal is on ESPN at 7:00 Eastern with Texas Tech 13-4 OVER away from home after playing a game as favorite.

Immediately following, UAB (25-8, 17-14 ATS) will host North Carolina (18-16, 11-20-1 ATS). The Blazers have already beaten one ACC team in this event, terminating N.C. State 72-52 in last contest. But folks in Birmingham are really excited North Carolina came from behind to beat Mississippi State to force this matchup.

"This is cool to know they won the national championship just a year ago, and now they're coming to little ol' Birmingham to play UAB," guard Aaron Johnson told the Birmingham News. "We're going to be even more pumped because these are the games we dream about -- the Dukes, and North Carolinas and Kansas."

UAB primary strength is its frontcourt players, which also is North Carolina's main weapon. The Blazers play strong defense, holding teams to 40.7 percent shooting and are 14-3 and 9-5 ATS at home, where a sell-out is expected and so is raucous environment. It's going to be crazy," Coach Mike Davis said. "It's probably going to be the most amazing thing ever from a crowd standpoint."

 This isn't vintage Tar Heels team UAB is going to face (otherwise why would they be in the NIT), however it is one that is trying to ease the stigma of a disappointing season. Coach Roy Williams' club has shown improvement in recent games. Cutting down turnovers (31 in last three games compared to season average of 15 per contest) and getting real production from freshman John Henson and sophomore Tyler Zeller has made UNC a much better team. Coach Williams hopes Zeller can go after suffering concussion against Mississippi State.

 The Tar Heels are 4.5-point underdogs and consecutive road wins as the hunted team in the Carolina blue uniforms would be a real boost for a club that is 4-11 and 5-9 ATS as visitors. North Carolina is 2-10 ATS against opponents allowing 64 or fewer points this season; however UAB is just 1-8 ATS after covering three of their last four against the spread.

After placing your bets at Sportsbook.com, be sure to enter the $5000 Sweet 16 Perfect Bracket.

NHL : Western Conference Clash of Titans

The Phoenix Coyotes weren't expected to come close to the playoffs, let alone contend for the Western Conference's best record. With less than three weeks left in the regular season, this once-downtrodden club is tied atop the West with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Coyotes look to set a franchise record with a 10th straight victory Tuesday night in Chicago and move ahead of the Blackhawks in the teams' second meeting in four days. Chicago is a -170 money line favorite with a total of 5.5 at Sportsbook.com.

Phoenix (46-22-5, 46-27 SU) was tied for the West's second-worst record in 2008-09, and expectations were low heading into this season as the team filed for bankruptcy over the summer and Wayne Gretzky stepped down as coach in late September. The Coyotes have managed to put those distractions behind them, not only closing in on their first playoff berth since 2002 but matching Chicago for the most points in the West with 97.

"What can you say about this group that hasn't already been said?" coach Dave Tippett asked after Sunday's 3-2 shootout win over Dallas, giving them 20 wins in last 26 contests.

Tippett's team was 10 points back of the conference lead on March 2 but has since won nine in a row, matching the franchise record set by the Winnipeg Jets from March 8-27, 1985.

"We want to keep (the winning streak) as long as we can," said Radim Vrbata, who leads the Coyotes with 23 goals. "As we've said all season, we want to try to find points every game and that's what we're doing right now."

Phoenix has picked up a number of points lately via the shootout, including each of the last three wins and five of seven. "For a team that's not supposed to have a lot of skill, we're finding ways to win, especially in a shootout," goaltender Jason LaBarbera said. The desert dogs are 14-2 after a victory.

One of the Coyotes' shootout wins came against the Blackhawks (45-19-7, 45-26 SU) on Saturday night. Chicago led 2-0 in the second period and 4-2 in the third, but Phoenix - the only Western team the Blackhawks haven't defeated this season - came charging back to win 5-4. Lee Stempniak scored twice and Vrbata had the lone shootout goal for the Coyotes, who are one win away from sweeping this season series for the first time in the franchise's 30-year history.

"It's embarrassing," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said after Saturday's loss in Phoenix. "There's really no other way to say it or talk about it." Unlike the confident Coyotes, the Blackhawks are suddenly stumbling. Chicago is 1-2-2 since March 13, and its once-solid defense has allowed at least four goals in three of four games. "We've got to play defense," Coach Joel Quenneville said. "We know we're going to score goals. We know we've got the offense."

Part of the reason for these breakdowns has been a sudden rash of injured defensemen. Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Kim Johnsson all have been hurt in the past five games, but there's a chance Seabrook could return for this contest. The Blackhawks are 4-0 after surrendering five or more goals in previous game.

Cristobal Huet, 2-2-0 with a 3.42 goals-against average in five games since the Olympics, might also be back after sitting out the last four because of the flu. Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to be in net for the Coyotes after getting Sunday off. He stopped 34 shots against the Blackhawks on Saturday and has a 1.66 GAA with two shutouts in winning his last seven starts overall. However, he's lost his last four starts in Chicago, allowing 17 goals.

Phoenix is 20-15 SU on the road and the Blackhawks are 15-5 against teams with winning visiting records and they have played OVER in 10 of previous 13. The Coyotes off their win against Dallas are 10-1 with a day between games and 15-5-3 UNDER facing teams with a positive record.

This showdown for the top spot in the West is available in local TV markets starting at 8:30 Eastern and the UNDER is 13-3-1 when these clubs compete on Chicago's South Side.

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