Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Southern Methodist Mustangs Betting Line, NIT Pick

OddsShark.comFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2014

SMU head coach Larry Brown talks to his team in a timeout during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against California in the quarterfinals of the NIT Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Dallas. SMU won 67-65. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
Sharon Ellman

The NIT comes down to a pair of No. 1 seeds in Thursday night’s championship game at Madison Square Garden, as the Minnesota Golden Gophers face the SMU Mustangs.

The Mustangs roll in on a 3-1 point-spread streak, while the Gophers have failed to cover five of their last seven betting lines at a neutral site.


Spread and total points scored betting line

The Mustangs opened as three-point favorites; the total was 132. (Compare NIT lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report)


Odds Shark NIT computer pick

71.5-66.6 Mustangs


Why pick Minnesota to cover the spread?

The Golden Gophers controlled most of their semifinal game with Florida State then did whatever they could to give the game away. Minnesota remained composed, however, and scored an overtime win to get to the title game.

The only loss the Gophers have suffered in more than a month now was at the hands of Wisconsin, the only other Big Ten school still playing this postseason. First-year coach Richard Pitino is proving he has some of his father’s wherewithal to coach in the big games.


Why pick SMU to cover the spread?

The Mustangs, who have covered the betting line in 11 of their last 15 games against winning teams, are led by legendary coach Larry Brown. And since being snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee, the Mustangs have gone on a rampage as a top seed here in the NIT.

Unlike some bubble teams that pout and lose immediately in the postseason, the Mustangs have won by an average of 8.75 points per game in this event.


Smart betting pick

It’s been tough to look past SMU in the postseason, despite its shockingly poor performance in the opening round of the American Athletic Conference tournament last month.

But given how well the Big Ten has looked during the postseason, it’d also be hard to overlook Minnesota as an underdog. Both teams are out to prove something in this NIT final, and both come in on a bevy of against-the-spread win streaks.

SMU is 5-1 against non-conference foes and 16-7 overall, while the Gophers have cashed in five of seven times. With both teams performing at their best right now, ignore the side in this one and look for a shootout and the total to land over the posted number.

That result would reverse a recent trend of under bets in the NIT final game (4-1 past five years).


Power rankings

Minnesota Golden Gophers: No. 248

Southern Methodist Mustangs: No. 165 (per Odds Shark power ranks)


NIT Final betting trends

  • Four of the past five NIT final games played under the total
  • Gophers lost the 2012 NIT final 75-51 to Stanford as two-point favorites
  • Minnesota is 8-2 SU, 7-2-1 ATS past 10 postseason games
  • SMU is 7-1 SU past eight postseason games (NIT this year and 2011)


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