Tuesday's Play-In Action
March 18, 2014
By Brian Edwards
**Mount Saint Mary's vs. Albany**
-- The 2014 NCAA Tournament will open in Dayton tonight when Mount Saint Mary's (16-16 straight up, 3-2 against the spread) battles Albany for the right to face the event's No. 1 overall seed Florida on Thursday in Orlando. As of early this morning, most betting shops had the Great Danes listed as 2.5-point favorites. The total is 141.5.
-- Albany (18-14 SU, 3-0 ATS) knocked off Vermont and Stony Brook in the semifinals and finals, respectively, of the America East Tournament. The Great Danes won outright as 6.5-point underdogs in both contests. In the finals against the Seawolves, Sam Rowley scored a game-high 18 points and D.J. Evans added 16 points.
-- Albany only faced seven opponents in the RPI's Top 150, winning only two of those games. The Great Danes' best win came on a neutral court against Vermont, an NIT participant that had an RPI of 108. They played just one RPI Top-100 foe, losing 58-46 at Pittsburgh on New Year's Eve.
-- Albany was a No. 16 seed in the 2006 NCAA Tournament and threw a scare into top-seeded UConn. The Great Danes led the Huskies 50-38 at the 11-minute mark of the second half, but Jim Calhoun's team eventually rallied to win by a 72-59 count.
-- Mt. State Mary's has won four in a row, including an 88-71 win over Robert Morris in the finals of the Northeast Conference Tournament. Rashad Whack led four Mountaineers in double figures with a team-best 20 points.
-- Mt. State Mary's went winless in four games against the RPI Top 100. The Mountaineers lost eight of 10 games against the RPI Top 150. They faced three Tournament teams, losing at Villanova (90-59), at BYU (108-76) and at Michigan State (98-65).
-- The 'over' is a perfect 3-0 for Albany. The 'over' went 4-1 for Mt. State Mary's.
-- Tip-off in Dayton is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. Eastern on TruTV.
**Xavier vs. North Carolina State**
-- As of early this morning, most spots had Xavier (21-12 SU, 18-13ATS) installed as a 2.5-point favorite. The total is 142 and gamblers can take N.C. State on the money line for a +125 return (risk $100 to win $125). The Musketeers are favored by 1.5 points in the first half, while the total is 66 points.
-- Chris Mack's team lost three of its last four games and nearly paid for it by missing the NCAAs. The Musketeers beat Marquette 68-65 as one-point underdogs in their Big East Tournament debut at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Justin Martin and Semaj Christon scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, in the win over the Golden Eagles. A win over Creighton in the semifinals would've prevented Xavier from having to go to the play-in game, but the Bluejays captured an 86-78 victory and took the cash as 6.5-point 'chalk.' In the losing effort, Isaiah Philmore scored 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
-- North Carolina State (21-13 SU, 18-12-1 ATS) earned one of the final spots in the field thanks to a strong showing at the ACC Tournament. The Wolfpack avenged a March 1 home loss to Miami by clipping the Hurricanes 67-58 as a two-point underdog. Next, Mark Gottfried's squad really flexed its muscle by beating Syracuse by a 66-63 count as a nine-point 'dog. N.C. State gave Duke fits in the semifinals before dropping a 75-67 decision as a 10-point puppy.
-- N.C. State has been on fire for our purposes, compiling a 10-2 spread record in its last 12 games. The Pack has covered the number in five consecutive contests.
-- When listed as an underdog this season, N.C. State owns a 12-6 spread record with eight outright victories. The Wolfpack's most impressive wins as underdogs came at Tennessee and at Pittsburgh. N.C. State has hooked up its backers in seven of its last eight 'dog situations.
-- Xavier has won four of 11 games against teams in tournament field, including scalps of Tennessee, Providence and Creighton at home. The Musketeers beat Cincinnati on a neutral court.
-- N.C. State won only four games out of 12 against schools that made the Tournament. The Wolfpack is led by T.J. Warren, the ACC Player of the Year who has averaged 31.5 points per game in the last five outings. Warren has scored 20 points or more in 17 consecutive games and is third in the nation in scoring (24.8 PPG). He scored at least 13 points in 33 of N.C. State's 34 games.
-- Christon is Xavier's leading scorer with a 17.1 PPG average. He has scored 18 points or more in five consecutive games. Christon also dished out 4.2 assists per contest Matt Stainbrook injured the MCL in his knee on March 3. The Musketeers' leading rebounder (7.3 RPG) missed one game and played just 24 minutes in two Big East Tournament games. Stainbrook, who averages 10.2 PPG, had 15 points and only boards in the last two outings.
-- Xavier has been an underdog in seven straight games. The Musketeers have been single-digit favorites 11 times, posting a stellar 8-3 spread record.
-- The 'over' is on an 8-1 run for N.C. State to improve to 17-13 overall.
-- The 'under' is 16-15 overall for Xavier.
-- TruTV will have the telecast 30 minutes after the first game at around 9:10 p.m. Eastern.
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