Robert Morris vs. North Florida Betting Line, Boise State vs. Dayton Betting Line

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Carrie Stroup
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Robert Morris vs. North Florida Betting Line, Boise State vs. Dayton Betting Lin

Carrie Stroup here with two NCAA Tournament First Round betting lines for Robert Morris vs. North Florida and Boise State vs. Dayton.


NCAA Tournament – First Round Line: North Florida -3.5, Total: 138

North Florida looks to continue the Atlantic Sun conference’s recent success in the NCAA tournament when it faces off against NEC champion Robert Morris Wednesday.

Florida Gulf Coast, Mercer, North Florida…? The Ospreys have quite big shoes to fill, walking in a path blazed by Dunk City and advanced by Mercer’s seismic upset of Duke last season. The Atlantic Sun champions will have to get past Robert Morris, a scrappy squad coached by 34 year-old Andy Toole, who’s making his first appearance in the NCAA tournament as head coach (as is Osprey’s coach Matthew Driscoll).

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Robert Morris is on a six game win streak heading into the tournament, having defeated NEC regular season champion St. Francis (NY) on the road in the conference’s title game, 66-63 on Mar. 10. Robert Morris actually hosted two tournament teams, as it went on to lose 77-50 to Lafayette in each team’s first game of the season and 74-59 to Buffalo on Dec. 7. Robert Morris’ best non-conference performances this season would be a 64-57 loss at Clemson and a 71-54 neutral court win over a 21-12 Louisiana Monroe team.

North Florida went 12-2 in conference play before picking up three more victories for their league’s title, as they defeated USC Upstate as a 5.5-point favorite (63-57) on Mar. 8. The Ospreys had some nice tests out of conference play, as they went 1-2 versus tournament teams. North Florida’s aforementioned win comes against Purdue (73-70) in West Lafayette. The Ospreys dropped contests to Northern Iowa (66-49) and Iowa (80-70) in addition to losing 69-67 at Northwestern on a shot in the closing seconds.

This is North Florida’s first trip to the NCAA tournament, while Robert Morris is making its first trip since 2010. In that 2010 season, the Colonels took Villanova to overtime as a No. 15 seed before losing 73-70. The Colonels have made the tournament eight times since 1982 with only an “opening round” win in 1983 versus Georgia Southern against seven losses.

Robert Morris has been the face of consistency and excellence for the Northeast Conference in the past decade, as they’ve made the conference tournament finals six out of the past seven years, now earning an NCAA berth for the third time in that span. Despite being outrebounded by 20 at St. Francis (NY) in the conference title game, Robert Morris won with defense, holding the Terriers to 38% FG. While the Colonels held all three NEC tournament opponents under 41% FG, they also happened to step up on offense, consistent with their conference play numbers (47.7% FG, 24th in NCAA) as they shot a respectable 44.5% or above in all three high-pressure games. What really makes the Colonels a scary opponent is how efficient they are from the outside (38% 3PT, 1st in NEC, 45th in NCAA; 42.3% 3PT in conference, 4th in NCAA). The Colonels hit 27 threes over their three NEC tournament wins (51% 3PT).

Robert Morris is led by by two upperclassmen, senior G Lucky Jones (14.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG – 1st team, 2.0 3PT/game) and junior G Rodney Pryor (15.2 PPG – 1st team, 4.7 RPG, 2.3 3PT/game). After returning from a concussion six games ago, Jones has come off the bench as the Colonels’ sixth man, scoring double figures in all six games (all Robert Morris wins). Jones is an exceptional rebounder for a guard as his production there is essential for a Colonels team that only plays one forward at a time and rebounds poorly (33.0 RPG, 211th in NCAA). Pryor “only” averaged 14.7 points in the NEC tournament, which is noteworthy because he came into the tournament averaging 25.5 points per game over his last four regular season games on 59% 3PT (16-for-27).

A strength of Robert Morris is that any one of its talented guards can go off in a given night, like G Kavon Stewart (6.3 PPG, 4.5 APG, 1.7 SPG) going for 19 points, eight assists and seven steals in the NEC semifinal win over Bryant, or G Marcquise Reed (14.8 PPG, 1.9 SPG) hitting for 22 points in the NEC quarterfinal win over Wagner.

The x-factor for the Colonels is their tallest member of the starting unit, 6-foot-8 freshman F Elijah Minnie (6.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.2 BPG) who entered the lineup in place of Jones and hasn’t looked back. Minnie was the best player on the floor in the NEC title game with 14 points and nine rebounds and is also a capable outside shooter, having hit at least one three in 10 straight games.

The Ospreys have one of the best offenses in the country (75.7 PPG, 25th in NCAA; 77.6 PPG in conference play, 8th in NCAA) and they’re efficient too (1.12 points per-possession; 23rd in NCAA). They’re a solid rebounding club (35.9 RPG in conference play, 66th in NCAA) and they won’t see size in the frontcourt from Robert Morris like they did in the non-conference season where they were just average on the boards.

Just like the Colonels, the Ospreys can really shoot the three as well (39.1% 3PT, 20th in NCAA) and they shoot it a lot more than Robert Morris does (9.1 3PT/game, 12th in NCAA). Unlike the Colonels, though (who are just an average team defensively against the three) North Florida excels at defending the arc (31% 3PT against, 40th in NCAA).

Leading the way for the Ospreys is G Dallas Moore (15.9 PPG, 3.6 APG, 49% FG), who’s percentage is even more impressive considering he’s second in the Atlantic Sun in field goal attempts. Moore poured in 36 points in the conference tournament semifinals versus Lipscomb.

North Florida’s most well-rounded player is senior leader, F Jalen Nesbitt (10.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.7 SPG), who plays point-forward at times. The Ospreys supporting cast includes F Chris Davenport (11.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 54% FG), North Florida’s leading rebounder who gets after it on the defensive end as well (1.0 BPG, 0.9 SPG), and F Demarcus Daniels (9.4 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.8 BPG) who should both be featured against the smaller Colonels. F Beau Beech (12.5 PPG, 2.4 3PT/game) and G Trent Mackey (8.9 PPG, 2.4 3PT/game) can be huge weapons behind the arc, but both are really struggling right now (Beech & Mackey combined to go 1-for-23 from three in past two games).


NCAA Tournament – First Round Line: Dayton -4.5, Total: 130

Dayton gets to play in its own backyard when it takes on Boise State Wednesday for the right to move on in the NCAA tournament and play Providence.

Both losers in their respective conference championship games, Dayton and Boise State face off on Wednesday night. This is the second time in three years playing in the “first four” for Coach Leon Rice’s Broncos, as they were defeated in 2013 by LaSalle. The Broncos have never won a tournament game.

Dayton had a storybook run as a No. 10 seed with Coach Archie Miller leading his Flyers to the elite eight last season. A handful of key contributors from last year’s Dayton squad return looking for another run deep into March. The Flyers are 7-3 SU (5-5 ATS) in their past 10 games, as they defeated St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island in the A-10 Tournament before losing the title game to VCU in Brooklyn.

Boise State had won 15 of their past 16 (14-2 ATS) before being upset in the Mountain West title game by Wyoming. Again, for all intents and purposes this is a road game for Boise State (while the official records from the NCAA Tournament may not show it) and the Broncos are 8-5 SU (9-4 ATS) away from home. Dayton, on the other hand, is 16-0 SU at University of Dayton Arena (9-5 ATS). 

Dayton is 2-2 SU (1-3 ATS) versus tournament teams, losing to Arkansas while defeating Ole Miss during the month of December. Boise State is 2-3 SU (2-3 ATS) against tournament teams, only having played one tournament team in the non-conference schedule (Wisconsin) and getting smacked by the Badgers on Nov. 14 before sweeping San Diego State in conference and getting swept by Wyoming. Dayton then split with VCU in conference play.

In Flyers games at University of Dayton Arena where there’s been a total, that number has been Over eight out of 11 times. The Broncos will be without the services of senior G Anthony Drmic (15.0 PPG in seven games) as has been the case since early December. The school’s sixth all-time leading scorer suffered a season-ending ankle injury.

Considering the Broncos have made the tournament (and flourished) without Anthony Drmic is nothing short of remarkable. Granted, scoring is very depressed in the Mountain West Conference, but this is Coach Rice’s best defensive team in his tenure (60.3 PPG against, 35th in NCAA; 31% 3PT against, 28th in NCAA). While the Broncos aren’t a very good rebounding team (32.9 RPG, 240th in NCAA) they excel in keeping their opponents off the boards (30.5 Opp RPG, 32nd in NCAA). On offense, the Broncos excel at taking care of the ball and making threes (10.3 TO/game, 14th in NCAA; 8.8 3PT/game, 16th in NCAA, 39.4% 3PT, 16th in NCAA).

The aforementioned numbers from the outsides are especially impressive when you consider that Boise has chucked 738 threes this season (59 more than the next best Mountain West school). Even though the Broncos play at a slow pace (63.8 poss/game, 268th in NCAA) they parlay their long-range marksmanship (37% of points come from three, 15th in NCAA) into 70.8 points per game (84th in NCAA) and 1.11 points per possession (27th NCAA).

Leading the Boise State offense is senior G Derrick Marks (19.3 PPG, 3 RPG, 3.7 APG). Marks has rightfully had to adopt a huge responsibility to carry the offense after Drmic went down for the season, and he’s shined for the most part (20.2 PPG, 50% FG) in the 25 games without his fellow star. As you’d expect, Marks takes a ton of shots (19.6 per game) and the ball is in his hands as much as possible (31.7% usage rate, 14th in NCAA). Marks is also the Broncos’ best weapon from three (2.3 3PT, 44%), however, he’s only 2 for his past 16 from long range, highlighting a slight overall scoring drought for the Broncos’ leader (eight of past nine games under 20 points).

F James Webb III (11.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.5 3PT) has been fantastic as a secondary source of offense and the Broncos’ leading rebounder. Webb III has double-figure rebounds in six of his past 10 games and can stretch the defense with his perimeter exploits as well (four games with 4+ threes this season).

If you’re looking for true long-range gunner though, you’d have to look no farther than burly F Nick Duncan (9.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.5 3PT). Duncan is second in the Mountain West in threes attempted, scored double-figures in each of Boise State’s three Mountain West tournament games, including 23 against Air Force, and owns three games of six or more made threes this season.

Dayton G Jordan Sibert (16.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.8 SPG and F Dyshawn Pierre (12.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.9 APG) were key cogs in the Flyers’ long run through March last year, while sophomore G Scoochie Smith (8.8 PPG, 3.8 APG) played key minutes as a freshman backup in the tournament. That said, the x-factor for Dayton could be the emergence of sophomore F Kendall Pollard (12.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG) into a threat, as he played sparingly in 2014.

The athletic Pollard is great at getting to the line, but not so great at converting (59% FT) and is the only semblance of rim protection (0.9 BPG) offered by the undersized Flyers, as Coach Miller doesn’t have a rotation player taller than 6-foot-6. Boise State provides a favorable matchup in that regard, as the Broncos’ big men like to float around the perimeter.

Pierre is a dynamic all-around talent, capable of taking over a game without scoring, as the offense can run through him as a point-forward. More than capable of grabbing a defensive rebound and running the break, Pierre has six games of five or more assists this season.

Sibert is the strong, attacking, guard who excels at putting his head down and scoring in a crowd, but can also hit from long range (2.2 3PT). Sibert also lives in the passing lane, as he’s swiped 13 steals in his past four games. Smith is a tough New York City guard who plays major minutes (34.7) and has upped his scoring in conference play (9.9 PPG).

G Kyle Davis (7.5 PPG, 1.3 SPG) is the last Dayton starter in an extremely short rotation, and the last option on offense for the Flyers. If Dayton is to be successful, they’ll have to exploit their advantage taking the ball to the rim with their athleticism, as they’ve done all season (48.7% FT rate, 2nd in NCAA).

- Carrie Stroup, Senior Reporter

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