NIT 2023: Betting Odds, Over-Under Predictions for Men's Round 1 BracketMarch 14, 2023
NIT 2023: Betting Odds, Over-Under Predictions for Men's Round 1 Bracket
The first round of the NIT is always difficult to navigate from a betting perspective.
There are endless questions about the motivations of certain teams, from the squads that barely missed the NCAA men's basketball tournament to the power-conference programs that are at the end of disappointing seasons.
The motivation of mid-major sides should not be questioned, as a majority of the programs entered in the NIT should look at the tournament as a chance to add to the trophy case and prove themselves against some of the biggest programs in the country.
The Liberty Flames and Toledo Rockets face that situation from the jump in the first round. Liberty hosts the Villanova Wildcats, who were in the Final Four in 2022, and Toledo visits the Michigan Wolverines.
Liberty's incredible defensive record at home could be the key to it upsetting Villanova, while Toledo's fast-paced offense is its main path to the NIT second round.
Liberty and all of the home teams in the NIT first round are betting favorites. Toledo's offensive style helped its game with Michigan earn the highest over/under among the 16 games.
The full odds for every NIT first-round game can be found here on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Villanova at Liberty
Odds: Liberty (-3), Over/Under 137.5, Villanova Money Line (+140; bet $100 to win $140)
Liberty is the only mid-major to host a power-conference team in the NIT first round.
The perennial contender in the Atlantic Sun missed out on the NCAA tournament when it lost the conference tournament final to Kennesaw State.
The Flames were rewarded with a No. 3 seed in the NIT and a rare home game against a name-brand program in Villanova.
Villanova did not hit its stride until February when Justin Moore returned from a long-term injury layoff. The Wildcats could be shorthanded on Tuesday night, as Moore and freshman Cam Whitmore are both game-time decisions, per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff Neiburg.
If both players do not feature for Villanova, the game should be a layup for Liberty to take on its home court.
The Flames lost once at home this season, and they played spectacular defense in A-Sun play inside Liberty Arena. Only two of Liberty's 11 home opponents reached the 65-point mark. Six of those teams failed to reach 55 points.
Liberty's defense could hold an opponent to another low number if Moore and Whitmore are unavailable for Villanova. The Wildcats opened 2-5 this season without both players on the floor.
Even if Villanova's two stars play, Liberty has the potential to limit their production. That could lead to Darius McGhee being the star of the game for the Flames.
McGhee has the fifth-most points per game in Division I and could be a problem against a Villanova defense that might not be motivated. The Wildcats are used to playing in the NCAA tournament and may have a hard time getting up for the road NIT contest.
Prediction: Liberty -3 & Under 137.5
Toledo at Michigan
Odds: Michigan -6, Over/Under: 163, Toledo ML (+215)
The highest over/under on the NIT first-round slate comes from the Toledo-Michigan matchup.
The number is not surprising if you watched one Toledo game this season. The Rockets have the second-best points per game total behind Gonzaga in Division I.
Toledo loves to push the pace and consistently scores in the 80s. That could be a problem for a Michigan team that may not be fully motivated after missing out on the NCAA tournament.
We know the Rockets are going to play their high-octane style of basketball, but we are unsure of how Michigan will start.
The Wolverines struggled on offense in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinal loss to Rutgers. It was a battle for them to reach 50 points in the 62-50 defeat.
The good news for over bettors is Michigan has been better offensively at home. Hunter Dickinson and Co. eclipsed the 75-point mark in each of their last four Big Ten home contests.
The hope is Michigan opens the game by matching Toledo's offensive intensity, and if that happens, a high-scoring game will be in the cards.
Prediction: Over 163
Utah Valley at New Mexico
Odds: New Mexico (-5.5), Over/Under: 162, Utah Valley ML (+195)
Wednesday's late-night clash inside The Pit features the second-highest over/under in the NIT first round.
New Mexico ranks 13th in points per game at 81.2, while Utah Valley is 57th at 76.9 points per contest. The Lobos are 16th in field-goal percentage, while the Wolverines are 70th.
Those stats look nice for the over to hit, but both teams are outside the top 100 in three-point shooting, which is vital for a high total to hit in any college basketball game. New Mexico ranks 104th at 35.6 percent, and Utah Valley shoots 32.9 percent from deep, which is the 252nd best total in Division I.
The average three-point totals are reason for concern that the over has any chance of hitting.
If you add in Utah Valley's recent defensive performances, the under appears to have a better percentage of hitting.
Utah Valley held six of its last 10 opponents under 70 points. All of those final scores would have gone under the projected total for Wednesday night's game.
New Mexico's defense has not been as great, as it conceded over 70 points in each of its final six contests.
The Lobos could turn in an average defensive performance and that will be all that is needed for the under to hit. A three-or-four-minute stretch without many points is the key for the under to hit because most teams have to be near-perfect to score 75-80 points.
Utah Valley struggled inside two Mountain West arenas in nonconference play, as it put up 58 points against Utah State and 69 points versus Boise State.
The step up in competition from the WAC to the Mountain West may force the Wolverines into some offensive struggles, and that could make them win the game with defense.
Prediction: Under 162
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