Editor's note: Since March 28, Brian Edwards is on a 10-3 run in college hoops for 7.92 units of profit. Going back further, Brian owns a 56-35 record (62%, +1872) since Feb. 21. Don't miss out on tonight's pick package.
Baylor and Iowa prevailed in the NIT semifinals Tuesday night to advance to Thursday’s finals at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
As of early Wednesday night, most betting shops had Iowa (25-12 straight up, 24-9 against the spread) installed as a one-point favorite after the game opened as a pick ‘em. The total was at 141 or 141 ½.
Baylor (22-14 SU, 16-15 ATS) captured a 76-70 win over BYU in the semifinals as a three-point favorite. The 146 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 155-point total.
Senior point guard Pierre Jackson was the catalyst for the Bears, torching the Cougars for 24 points, 10 assists and five rebounds. Cory Jefferson added 21 points, while Isaiah Austin produced a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.
A tight game that had nine ties and six lead changes in the first half shifted Baylor’s way when Jackson scored seven straight points to ignite a 12-2 run. The scoring spree led the Bears to a 64-54 advantage with 3:24 remaining.
Gamblers backing Baylor started to feel comfortable, but that relaxation quickly turned to angst when BYU’s Matt Carlino drained three 3-pointers in a 49-second span to pull his team to within four with 19 ticks remaining. However, Jackson sealed the victory with a pair of free throws.
Iowa took the cash for the 10th straight time and advanced to the finals by beating Maryland 71-60 as a 3.5-point ‘chalk.’ Roy-Devyn Marble was the catalyst with 21 points and nine rebounds. Eric May finished with 12 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals without committing a turnover, while Aaron White added 10 points, eight boards and a pair of blocked shots.
Fran McCaffery’s team has been dynamite as a single-digit favorite this season, compiling a 9-2 spread record. Meanwhile, Baylor has a 5-4 ATS mark in nine games as an underdog.
Iowa has won 11 of its last 14 games with two of those losses coming at Indiana and vs. Michigan St. in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes probably would’ve been invite to the NCAA Tournament if they could’ve pulled out victories in overtime losses on the road at Wisconsin and at Purdue.
Iowa also had narrow defeats at home vs. Indiana and Michigan St., in addition to a 62-59 loss at Minnesota.
Scott Drew’s squad certainly has the talent of an NCAA Tournament team but this team pulled too many no-shows. For instance, the Bears lost at home to Charleston and Northwestern and got spanked at Texas on March 4.
The ‘under’ is 19-13-1 overall for Iowa.
The ‘over’ is 16-14 overall for Baylor despite seeing back-to-back ‘unders.’
Tip-off is slated for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Iowa is in the NIT finals for the first time in school history. Baylor was in the 2009 finals but lost a 69-63 decision to Penn St.
--East Carolina won the College Insider Tournament by winning 77-74 at Weber St. in Tuesday’s finals. The Pirates won in Ogden as 9.5-point underdogs, hooking up money-line backers with a +400 payout. Miguel Paul scored a game-high 23 points for ECU.
--Rutgers pulled the plug on Mike Rice’s tenure early Wednesday morning. Look for Danny Hurley, a Seton Hall alum who played for his father at St. Anthony’s High School, to emerge as a top candidate.
--Minnesota has hired Richard Pitino to replace Tubby Smith as its next head coach. Pitino led Florida International to 18 wins this year in his first season as a head coach.
--The old Big East will now be called the American Athletic Conference.
--Florida signee Chris Walker won the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest on Tuesday in Chicago. Walker and Kasey Hill, both of whom are five-star recruits, will join the Gators next season.
--UF junior power forward Patric Young indicated that he’s undecided about returning to school or turning pro following his team’s loss to Michigan this past Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. Young is projected as a mid-to-late second-round pick in most mock drafts.
--Next time you’re in Dallas and in the mood for barbeque, I recommend Sammy’s. I had pulled pork, potato casserole, cole slaw and sweet tea. It was outstanding!
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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